National Apprenticeship Week (3-7 March) “is the time when all eyes are on Apprenticeships and it’s all about raising the profile amongst employers, individuals, teachers, parents and the media.” We therefore thought we would take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of apprenticeships, so that we can give the best advice to our pupils when they are considering their options once they have left school.

Today The Telegraph reported that:

“Participation is still small compared with alternative educational routes. In the first quarter of 2013-14, 108,000 people started an apprenticeship, while 495,000 students embarked on a university course last autumn. But numbers have risen rapidly. In 2012-13, some 860,000 people were on apprenticeships, double the figure from five years ago.

The hike in tuition fees and the recession have also made apprenticeships a more appealing alternative to both university and full-time work.”

The rise of applications for apprenticeships was also noted last month in The Guardian, reporting that “The number of apprenticeship vacancies in the UK rose sharply at the start of this academic year but employers are failing to keep up with demand, with 12 applications for every position.” It can be hoped that one of the outcomes of National Apprenticeship Week will be a rise in the number of apprenticeships offered by companies around the country to keep up with demand.

Advantages and Disadvantages

One of the most obvious benefits of undertaking an apprenticeship is the fact that you can earn a wage whilst gaining relevant qualifications and skills for your career of choice. However, the rate of pay for apprentices can be very low; many 16-18 year olds will receive the National Minimum Wage for apprentices, which is £2.68 per hour.

If a pupil has specific career aspirations, then gaining hands-on experience in that particular field is essential. Therefore, an apprenticeship would be a perfect opportunity as it provides a fast route into the career of their choice with good prospects. An apprenticeship isn’t available as a route into all occupations, so this also needs to be taken into consideration.

Addressing pupils’ expectations in regards to apprenticeships is another important part of your advice. Initially, they may be expected to carry out menial tasks which may cause them to become disillusioned with their career choice. Alternatively, the apprentice may become disgruntled that they are receiving a lower wage for carrying out the same tasks as permanent employees.

These advantages and disadvantages need to be communicated with your pupils as part of the careers advice that is on offer to them, so that those considering an apprenticeship are aware of all that the position will entail.

Featured image courtesy of Deutsche Fotothek