How apprenticeships help learners build careers for the future

With the cost of living continuing to rise and the heavy burden of debt attached to the university route, is it time for more young people to consider apprenticeships?

07 February 2023

For many teenagers currently in education, making their way from school to working life has come to mean excelling in the right school subjects, paying thousands of pounds to complete a degree and then face intense competition for a graduate role.

Even with all those hoops jumped through, and the debt accumulated, according to research published by City & Guilds in 2020 polling almost 2,000 adults in England, the majority of people felt that apprenticeships left people better prepared for the workplace compared to university (54% vs 6%).

The modern employment market is constantly evolving leading to a demand for new skills across multiple sectors. Many industries such as construction, social care and engineering are facing acute skills shortages, which are not always helped by the gap between young people entering the workforce with academic qualifications and those possessing practical skills needed in the workplace.

Luckily for today’s teenagers there have never been more alternative paths to developing workplace skills available, and an ever-growing range of apprenticeships is making careers in everything from construction to digital marketing or social care more accessible for people who are looking to develop their skills outside of a university education.

“The majority of people polled felt that apprenticeships left people better prepared for the workplace compared to university (54% vs 6%)”

Why an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship standards are driven by employers. This means that apprentices are studying exactly what they need to know and are being assessed on the skills that they’ll use every day, setting them up for success in their sector. These standards are regularly updated, making sure apprentices are getting the latest information so they’re ready to really contribute to their workplace.

Every apprentice completes a mixture of on-programme teaching hours and on-the-job training, putting them in contact with industry experts for every part of their apprenticeship. New concepts can be applied in the workplace immediately and any industry questions can be answered by teammates and colleagues, offering a refreshing alternative in a time where online learning is becoming more commonplace.

Choosing an apprenticeship doesn’t just mean saving money, it means making money. According to government research the predicted average debt on graduation for students who started university in the 2021/2022 academic year is £45,800 with studying today more expensive than it has ever been. Meanwhile, apprentices are not charged tuition or training fees and receive a salary while they study, leaving young people free from the burden of debt, and giving them the chance to being earning a wage while they develop valuable skills.

There’s nothing wrong with a long, winding career journey, but sometimes it pays to be direct. Apprentices have a role in their workplace from the beginning and spend their time being trained not just on how to best fulfil that role but also how to continue to progress in the sector. Research from The St Martin’s Group found that whether apprentices choose to stay in their current role, push for a promotion or join a new employer, 92% of those who completed an apprenticeship were in employment when surveyed, with 69% remaining in the same industry.

To find out more about the range of apprenticeship standards that we support, visit the City & Guilds Apprenticeships webpage.