At TMP Worldwide we never rest on our laurels when it comes to developing our sector expertise. It’s the heartbeat of our outthink promise. Here, Rachel Butler gives us the benefit of her experience in the world of apprenticeships.
Prior to my time here, I worked in apprenticeship training for 13 years for a training provider based in Devon. We covered all of the Southwest, across many disciplines. Over the years, my two main areas were Construction and Business. I had the great role of finding Apprentices and then finding them an employer to ‘earn while they learn’. It was incredibly rewarding, I was involved in supporting young people from the age of 16 years old, into the transition to the working world, seeing them right the way through to the end, when they picked up their certificates.
In the construction industry in particular, I would meet with the youngsters, very shy and awkward at first, not 100% sure what to do or what to expect, and how to adult. Then fast forward a few years – they have gained their qualifications up to the advanced level, become experienced in their trade, set up on their own and are now coming back to me to take on an apprentice, giving someone the opportunity that they had. I love that cycle.
I have seen over and over how successful apprenticeships are and what a difference they can make to people of varying abilities. Quite often, they wouldn’t have had a great time at school, as they are far more practically – rather than academically – minded.
With all of this in mind, I wanted to share some insights I’ve gained over the years.
Let’s change perceptions
Traditionally, education has long been considered the default path for young adults, guiding them through secondary school, college, and onto university. This route promises to broaden horizons, enhance future earning opportunities, and create life experiences. While this conventional trajectory undoubtedly suits many, there’s a growing question about whether unconventional paths, such as apprenticeships, are unfairly overlooked owing to a fear of deviating from tradition.
Apprenticeships are an exciting paid option for anyone wanting to gain experience, upskill or change career because they offer the chance to earn a wage whilst they work and study. For the good of talented young people, the economy and society at large, it’s vital that all of us working in, or adjacent to, this sector redouble our efforts to change the perceptions of apprenticeships.
Real world experiences
College and university classrooms differ significantly from typical workplaces. Although both involve deadlines and hard work, the transition from an academic setting to a work environment can be a huge culture shock. Apprenticeships offer a direct plunge into the professional world, allowing individuals to learn from industry experts, immersing themselves into the working world.
Contrary to the belief that career progression hinges on further education, the reality is that individual traits like having a good work ethic, timekeeping, being proactive and the ability to deliver outstanding work play a more pivotal role. Apprenticeships, available to start as early as 16 years old, present an alternative timeline for success. While traditional students are graduating from their degrees, apprentices could have been earning a wage, have finished their Level 2 and are well on their way to securing an Advanced apprenticeship, with some even reaching junior management roles in their early 20s. This is a story we need to tell with more gusto.
Skills for life
Traditional education offers a plethora of course options, including studying in the UK, abroad, or through online platforms. In the past, apprenticeships were perceived as limited to industries like hairdressing, trades, childcare, and business services. However, times have changed. In 2023, apprenticeships offer boundless possibilities, with opportunities emerging even in unconventional fields like space exploration. The landscape of apprenticeships has evolved, providing diverse and exciting avenues for those seeking alternatives to the traditional educational journey.
Sharron Robbie MBE from the Devon and Cornwall Training Provider Network is a real advocate for apprenticeships and says:
Apprenticeships are a fantastic way for people to gain industry-level qualifications whilst earning a salary. In addition, apprenticeships are a really good means for employers to grow their workforce and to close skills gaps. Apprentices bring creativity, new skills, passion and loyalty to a business, all of which support team cohesion and greater productivity.
I particularly love the fact that you can start your career with an employer as an apprentice across a wide-range of sectors and job roles. Being able to gain real-life work skills, knowledge and behaviours, whilst earning, is an excellent way to kick start a career or to redeploy into a new role or sector. The fact that you can now gain university-level qualifications via the Degree-Level Apprenticeship route too is an added bonus!