Apprenticeships are often seen as badly paid and ‘second rate’ positions for school leavers who lack the opportunities or academic skills needed for the University route. However this could not be further from the truth. Apprenticeships are hugely valuable and highly credited placements that allow you to earn as you learn, and are as valuable to the economy as they are to the individual.
Over the next 10 years, 3.8 million people will complete an apprenticeship, contributing an estimated £3.4bn to the UK economy per year in productivity gains by 2022, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research. It’s no wonder the number of people taking part in apprenticeships is on the rise.
In this post, we want to dispel some of the most common myths surrounding apprenticeship programmes, so you can be aware of all the facts when considering your options.
“They’re badly paid”
Apprenticeship schemes are often given a bad name for the amount they , but in October last year the government started tightening the rules. Through the Skills Funding Agency (SFA), the government outlined new guidance on what an apprenticeship is and the requirements from the employer, stating that the national minimum wage for apprentices aged 16 to 18 starts at £2.68. Apprentices aged 19 or over who have completed their first year get paid the national minimum way for 18-20 year olds. On average, apprentices take home £200 net pay per week, however many apprenticeships often pay more than this, so it’s worth doing your research.
For example, at Opus Energy all apprentices are started on a salary of £14,000, which then raises to £17,000 after six months.
Also, unlike most methods of gaining training and qualifications, apprenticeships are paid for by the government and your employer, so they’re a much more cost-effective alternative to University.
“They’re not for top students”
An apprenticeship is simply an alternative to a university degree, and not a second rate option. An apprenticeship is for dedicated and talent students who have decided to enter the world of work straight away, with a marketable set of practical skills.
Companies involved with these qualifications are looking to bring the best candidates into their business at an earlier stage, often meaning that the students learn important skills which in turn can dramatically increase their employability.
Opus Energy apprentices gain an NVQ level 2 Business Administration or Customer Service, and can then choose to continue studying and gain their NVQ level 3.
University isn’t the right choice for everybody, and school-leaver programmes such as apprenticeships offer a variety of choices to those who are looking for a different road into the world of work.
“Apprenticeships are less valuable than degrees”
It is often assumed that a university degree is more desirable to employers, however as competition amongst graduates increases, and more and more ex-students are struggling to find jobs, the success rate for finding a job amongst apprentices is actually higher than that of graduates.
Although it’s a fact that graduates generally start work after university at a higher wage, this doesn’t take into account the debt they have to repay. Apprentices are entitled to at least the minimum wage but are often paid more, and as their skills expand, typically their wage packets do too.
Apprenticeships offer young people a wealth of different opportunities, and many offer the chance to gain degrees or foundation degrees as part of the programme, so participants can get the same level of qualification as their university peers while working at the company and applying their learned skills.
Apprenticeships are only available for blue-collar jobs
There are now apprenticeships offered in more sectors than ever before, and whilst there are still one or two careers, such as medicine, that are limited to only those with a professional degree, over 250 different types of apprenticeships are available in jobs ranging from engineering to accountancy.
These days, there are many different ways to get onto your chosen career path aside from the traditional university route. An apprenticeship could be the perfect alternative to those looking for something a little more suited to you and your career goals.
For more information on Apprenticeships, take a look at some of our articles on the subject.
To find out more about Opus Energy apprenticeships, visit our Careers page by clicking here.