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Educational Alternatives: Apprenticeships


Photo courtesy of Yero Timi-Biu

As the end of term looms closer, questions about what we’re up to after summer or what our life plans are arise. Yero investigates the education routes that aren’t always the most obvious choices – this one is apprenticeships.

In the last of our series for Educational Alternatives, we’d like to remind you all that post-16 education doesn’t always have to be the traditional route of sixth forms and college A Levels, then on to university. It’s not for everyone. In our last Educational Alternatives article, we mentioned that when you do your research, you should always make sure that the further learning opportunities cater to your needs and interests.

Photograph: Talkback Thames source: theguardian.com

Photograph: Talkback Thames source: theguardian.com

Career development can be tricky when it comes to following your interests, as well as making use of your skillset, and earn a living at the same time. Apprenticeships are great for people who want to earn while they learn and last between one and four years depending on the level.

Apprenticeships are funded by the government and don’t cost a thing, in fact you’re paid for your time.  An apprentice (not to be confused with this TV show) is a person who learns a trade from a skilled employer, having agreed to work for a fixed period at low wages, and they are sometimes called trainees. There are various fields apprentices can work in, from agriculture, arts, media and publishing to engineering. Apprentices can earn up to  £170 per week or sometimes higher, depending on the level of the apprenticeship.

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Although many young people use an apprenticeship as an alternative to university, it doesn’t mean you can’t still go to university after being an apprentice. In fact, by working as a professional, you’re exposed to a detailed introduction into the industry you want to work in before committing to a degree.

Conservative government has pledged Three million new apprenticeships by 2020

Due to the demand of apprenticeships from both young people and employers, the Conservative government has pledged there will be three million new apprenticeships by 2020. In order to be able to fund these new apprenticeship’s, the Conservatives have revealed an apprenticeship levy (imposing tax) in the newly released budget. This means that big companies will be taxed more on their apprentices, which has been met with much scepticism from some employers.

Gabriele Power started her career at Channel 4 when she was 16-years-old as a business apprentice, and just over three years later, she’s still there.  Priscilla is 21-years-old, studied A Levels and knew university wasn’t for her and is know a Software Development Apprentice at Sky.  Many people who are Priscilla’s age are now only graduating from university and competing for the same positions at renowned broadcasters such as Sky.

What do Apprentices do?

• work with experienced staff in all fields
• gain job-specific skills
• earn a wage and get holiday pay
• study toward a a related qualification (one day a week)

Who Are Apprenticeships For? 

• people who are 16 and over
• live in England
• not in full-time education
• want to earn while they learn

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What Levels Are Available?

Intermediate: Equivalent to 5 GCSEs
Advanced: 2 A Level Passes
Higher: NVQ 4 Plus or a Foundation Degree

Where can I find out about Apprenticeship opportunities in Bristol?

City of Bristol College connects young people seeking apprenticeships with employers who provide them.  They also provide 1:1 support with your apprenticeship as well as advice on what to do after.

Bristol City Council also offer apprenticeships for 24 months. Even big media organisations like BBC Bristol offer 12-month apprenticeships for young creatives interested in digital media.

If you know that you want to develop your skills, learn and earn some money at the same time, but you’re still unsure about what to do this September, apprenticeships have yearlong start dates. You should also speak to an advisor at a college or youth centre for more information.  Remember not to rush into anything and do as much research as possible in order to make decisions that are right for you.

Has this article helped you in any way?  Have you had an alternative education or are you thinking of one? Let us know — @rifemag

Related Links:

Find out more about the Apprenticeships and where to start

Find out more about other courses at City of Bristol College