The best of both worlds

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

AS the cost of university continues to rise and the work place becomes an ever more competitive arena, the buzzword on everyone’s lips is once again apprenticeships.

Put aside any misconceptions of tea-making or cheap-labour, the tired and undesirable programmes of the 1970s and 80s have gone.

Instead apprenticeships have been re-booted, and today’s 2.0 formula offers school-leavers the best of both worlds – education and a steady income.

And Bristol and the South West are spearheading the trend for apprenticeship schemes, with hundreds of companies across a multitude of sectors offering teenagers this golden opportunity to gain diplomas, B-Techs, higher education qualifications, and much more.

A world leader in aerospace, Bristol is home to a host of engineering based apprenticeship schemes from Airbus to Rolls Royce.

Paired with the exponential growth in the creative sector over the past decade, and there are opportunities to suit every skill set and career aspiration.

As we enter the middle of Apprenticeship Week 2016, the Bristol Post want to highlight the array of opportunities open to enthusiastic, hard working and ambitious school leavers preparing to embark on the next stage of their lives.

Bristol News and Media managing director Sarah Pullen said: “It really is an exciting time to be heading out in to the world of work with so many opportunities and careers available. Here at the Bristol Post we have always been proud to support apprenticeship providers and celebrate the achievements of apprentices who often go on to do great things. We are also proud and committed to businesses who are big supporters of apprenticeships. We are incredibly lucky to have so many excellent education facilities in the region which provide first class apprenticeship programmes and have strong links to top international, national and SME businesses. We hope to see many more school leavers come through our annual Apprenticeship Awards campaign as more and more youngsters choose to take up apprenticeship opportunities.”

Not just an economic method of entering an industry, research shows apprenticeships offer long-term job prospects.

A survey carried out by apprenticeship provider, Positive Outcomes, found that 77 percent of apprentices were offered full-time positions with their employer last year.

Ryan Longmate, joint managing director of Positive Outcomes, said: “The fact nearly four out of five apprentices go on to gain full-time employment with their apprenticeship provider is a remarkable statistic. When you compare that to going to university, where, having completed your degree programme, the process of job hunting begins in earnest, it really is a fantastic endorsement of an apprenticeship as a career route. Not only do you earn, learn and gain invaluable experience, you then avoid the stress of job hunting at the end of it. The experience and business in-sight garnered through an apprenticeship is educationally unparalleled and sets former apprentices in excellent stead to go on and progress in their careers. A recent Comres study, conducted in 2015, suggested only 52 percent of graduates regarded their degree as value for money. Whilst this isn’t directly comparable, when you consider apprentices pay no tuition fees and in actuality get paid to learn, it really puts apprenticeships in an extremely favourable light.”

And an increasing number of youngsters are taking up this trend.

Apprenticeship enrolment in Bristol has more than tripled in the past nine years, rising from 900 in 2005-2006 to 3,180 in 2014-15.

South Gloucestershire saw an increase of 1,790 in the same period, and Bath and North East Somerset saw arise of 680 over the years.

Last year UCAS received 9,330 apprenticeship applications for pre-university courses – up 20 percent on 2014.

Gina Bradbury, head of post-16 development at UCAS, said: “Young people are making education and training choices in a very complex landscape now, with vocational courses becoming increasingly popular both as a route to employment and into higher education.

“It’s a big step forward to see more and more teenagers discovering apprenticeships and other post-16 courses through UCAS Progress, which builds on our long experience of helping people make the right university choices.”

Government data shows that there are apprenticeship opportunities available in 1,500 job roles across 170 industries from advertising to youth work, environmental auditing to legal.

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