All about apprenticeships

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Apprenticeships are enjoying a revival and it’s not just the employees who benefit..

The best way of learning a new skill is to get stuck in and do it yourself and that’s why apprenticeships are becoming a popular choice for young people who don’t want to go down the traditional academic route.

Working alongside experienced staff, as an apprentice you will learn job-specific skills and be paid while you are doing it. At the same time, you are given time, usually on a day release basis, to receive training with a local training provider such as a college.

At the end of your apprenticeship, not only do you have a recognised qualification, but you also have valuable work experience too, which will give you a definite edge over other less qualified people.

Many successful business leaders took the vocational learning route, such as John Cauldwell, the founder of Phones 4U; Laurence Graff of Graff Diamonds; Mike Turner of BAE Systems, as well as other high-profile personalities at the top of their professions such as celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, hairdresser John Frieda and gardener Alan Titchmarsh.

Area of expertise
There are a whole host of industries that take on apprentices ranging from accountancy to football, to veterinary nursing and boat building with the most popular being engineering, business administration, construction and hospitality. In fact, there are more than 180 types of apprenticeships available across more than 80 sectors of industry and commerce so there is plenty of scope to find one that is suitable for you. The body Apprencticeships is focusing on encouraging more employers to offer places and this has already been successful with the Government announcing recently that there will be 21,000 new apprenticeships in education, local and central Government. More than 130,000 businesses offer Apprenticeships in England alone.

Money issues
The beauty of being an apprentice is that not only will you be paid a salary, but if you are aged between 16 and 18, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) will pay the full cost of your training. If you are 19 or older your employer will be expected to contribute to your training cost but this is normally around 25% of the course cost. By the end of your apprenticeship, you will not only have technical knowledge, but you will also have more general skills such as communication and numeracy, which will enable you to develop personally and professionally.
There are two levels of qualifications; ‘Apprenticeships’, which are equivalent to GCSE level or ‘Advanced Apprenticeships’, which are equivalent to A-levels.
The selection process is just like any other job application process and individuals are put through a series of interviews, and in some cases, tests, to establish if they are the right fit for the role. The benefit for the employer is improved productivity and increased staff retention.

‘It gave me the kickstart I needed’
Sarah Abbot, 20, from Mickleton, Gloucestershire was a finalist in the 2008 Apprenticeships Awards.

‘Before I began my Apprenticeship, I was not very confident, but The Three Ways House Hotel in Mickleton (well known as it is home to the world famous Pudding Club) gave me the security to express my opinion and ideas. I have achieved much more since being an apprentice and I now have the drive and the knowledge to work harder and set myself higher goals. It has also helped transform my passion for food into the skills I need to become a competent chef.’ Sarah now helps to make puddings for the Pudding Club meetings and is a permanent member of staff at the hotel.

Apprenticeships on offer

Agriculture, horticulture and animal care, arts, media and publishing  business, administration and law, construction, planning and the built environment, education and training, engineering and manufacturing technologies, health, public servwww.apprenticeships.org ices and care, information and communication technology, leisure, travel and tourism, retail and commercial

To find out more about apprencticeships call the national helpline on 08000 150 600 or log on to www.apprenticeships.org

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