The positive impact of apprenticeships
One of the companies commended for embracing the changing landscape of apprenticeship provision in Greater Manchester is Amazon, who announced it would be taking on 45 new apprentices at its Logistics North site.
Nicola Elliott, 27, is currently one of six apprentices at the Amazon North site. Her course combines work as a process automation apprentice, with an engineering degree at Stockport College.
She suggested that the studying a higher apprenticeship, which included a residential-based year means people do not necessarily have to miss out on the ‘university experience’.
Ms Elliott said: “The first year of the apprenticeship was residential-based, where we studied full-time at college. The course was really enjoyable and it was great having the opportunity to live with my fellow apprentices.
“I am now based on-site at Amazon in Bolton. It has been great to meet the team and to put into practice some of the things we learned at college.”
Attitudes towards apprenticeships can often be negative compared to traditional university degrees, meaning young people can often find it daunting telling their parents they wish to apply for one.
Ruth Sparkes, editor of teen magazine Future Mag says she believes they are a great option.
She said: “Apprenticeships have been overhauled, modernised. Training is better quality and must be government approved.
“Apprenticeships aren’t just for manual work. They are offered in some 1,500 occupations across 170 industries — they are simply a different route into skilled employment and a viable alternative to university.
“Over the longer term, earnings don’t differ dramatically from those of university graduates. Top apprentices can expect to earn thousands of pounds more over their careers than graduates of non-Russell Group universities.”
According to research by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) more parents in the UK now actually want to see their child undertake an apprenticeship than a university degree.
From 2,000 adults surveyed, 25 per cent would rather their children undertook an apprenticeship, as opposed to 24 per cent who would rather their children go to university. Fifty per cent of people said they had no preference.
Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB said: “We are finally seeing the shift in attitudes with more people understanding the value of undertaking a vocational apprenticeship rather than a university degree.
“For too long, apprenticeships were looked down on and seen as the alternative route if children weren’t bright enough to follow the more academic route.
“With university fees in England going through the roof, and with apprenticeships offering an ‘earn-while-you-learn’ route to a meaningful job, it’s no wonder that the penny has finally dropped.
“This research signals that the majority of children won’t be suffering undue pressure from their parents or teachers to attend university unless it really is right for them.
“Not everyone is academic and even for our very brightest students, on-the-job-learning can be an appealing way to prepare for the world of work.
“Apprenticeships are a brilliant career path and there are plenty of exciting opportunities in sectors like construction — we are crying out for more young people to join our ranks.”
Some employers hire both apprentices and university graduates.
Bethany Fearn, from Manchester-based recruitment firm TMI Resourcing said drive and determination means more to a lot of employers than background or education.
She said: “We work with a number of both graduates and apprentices.
“My genuine opinion is that your level of education doesn’t necessarily matter — it’s your level of experience and that can be obtained both through apprenticeship programmes and degrees.
“We look for the candidates with drive to do well, rather than background or education.”
Contact Trafford College’s dedicated Apprenticeship Team, START, on (0161) 886 7461 to find out more, or search our Apprenticeship section on the website for live vacancies and more information on the changing landscape of apprenticeships in the North-West.