For generations apprenticeships have been a tried and tested – though sometimes overlooked – entry route into a number of industries and occupations.
An apprenticeship is work experience that comes with pay, training and a qualification.
Apprenticeships typically last between one and four years and are usually regulated by the government. This ensures that participants receive a minimum hourly wage and enjoy the same rights as other employees. By the end of the scheme, apprentices can expect to have gained many of the tools they need for a long-term career in their chosen profession.
While traditionally reserved for those with an interest in construction, carpentry and a variety of other manual trades, apprenticeships have increasingly become the gateway into a wide range of sectors. These include IT, healthcare, finance and food and hospitality, to name but a few. More than 150,000 employers are signed up to the ApprenticeshipUSA scheme, across 1,000 professions. The UK and Australia are not far behind, and applicants in both countries are able to select from several hundred potential occupations.
The typical apprentice will be a recent school-leaver between the ages of 16 and 21; however, people of all ages and backgrounds are usually able to apply. As well as current high school students, the Australian Apprenticeship scheme specifically targets people switching careers or returning to the workforce after a hiatus.
All things considered, apprenticeships can be an excellent way to develop new skills and to lay the foundation for a long-term career. The route into a permanent role is usually very direct and, in the majority of cases, far less expensive than the traditional university or college graduate route.
While most apprenticeships pay relatively little to start with, the long-term rewards can be substantial. In fact, UK apprentices in fields including publishing, media and the arts are likely to earn almost three times more than those with degrees over the course of their career.
These are all valid reasons to apply and, provided you possess a genuine enthusiasm for your chosen profession, there really is no reason not to get involved.