Apprenticeships in this country can be traced back to the guilds of the Middle Ages, when upper-class families would send their children away to learn medieval crafts; an acceptable choice for a well to do family. Since then, the number of apprentices has risen and fallen over the years and after peaking in the 1960s there was a slow decline and in 1995 there were half as many apprentices in employment as there were in 1979.
When I left School, going for an apprenticeship wasn’t a popular option if you were academically able. Things are certainly changing. Since Modern Apprenticeships were introduced in 1993, the scheme has substantially improved, and with more and more A level candidates eyeing the expense of university with some trepidation and scepticism, going down the apprenticeship route can be a sensible and viable alternative.
From 2006, apprenticeships across the country began a journey of popularity and expansion, from only 175,000 vacancies being available then to now over 500,000 programmes at all levels. While the original apprentices were very much ‘hands on’, with young people learning the crafts of the time, these days they are available in many areas of business and industry such as Business & Law, Engineering and Manufacturing and Health & Care Services. Indeed the top apprenticeships are more difficult to secure than an Oxbridge place.
This week is National Apprenticeships Week, which provides a fantastic opportunity for pupils to think about their future careers and the various options available to them after they leave school. The many benefits for young people to work and learn at the same time, gaining real work experience, improving employability and developing skills are undeniable. Arguably, they have significant advantages over those who have gone the university route but have no actual experience of the workplace and in most cases, a large debt which will take them many years to pay off.
Ollie Khan, former Bethany School pupil, is currently completing his Level 4 apprenticeship with Red Carnation Hotels after achieving an A* in Business Studies, B in Finance and a B in Media Studies at A level.
Simon Duff, Head of Careers, said: “Apprenticeships are a growing sector, with many industries embracing them and the opportunities that they present are outstanding. At Bethany, we will always inspire our pupils to love what they learn and in regard to life post-Bethany, we must also encourage them to love the way they learn as well. University isn’t for everyone and we are fully committed to both Level 3 Apprenticeships (post A level) and Level 4 Degree Apprenticeships (where you get a degree as well, with tuition fees paid for).”
This week at Bethany, our Careers department will be supporting NAW by sending out a ‘resource of the day’ to tutees and a ‘webinar of the day’, showing the opportunities of becoming an apprentice. Staff are encouraging conversations with our pupils about their aspirations for the future and I think it can only be a good thing that they have apprenticeships as a good option to consider along with all the other choices young people have today for a successful and happy future in a career they love.