If you’re not sure about studying for a degree, then an apprenticeship could be for you. But wait! Before you say there won’t be any apprenticeships in the industry you’re interested in, have a read of this, because apprenticeships aren’t just for plumbers and engineers anymore, y’know…

We spoke to Charlotte Platzner of and Ann Pickering of O2, who’ve taken on over 40 apprentices as part of their Telefonica apprenticeship scheme, for advice on why an apprenticeship is a good way to earn money and forge a secure career for yourself.

It’s in the form of a Q&A session that never actually took place, but COULD have done:

What’s an apprenticeship? Is it a boat?

No, stop it. An apprenticeship allows people to learn on the job – or with a mixture of study and hands-on training, depending on the industry – within a specific, vocational setting. Ann Pickering describes apprenticeships as “an untapped wealth of skill and knowledge sitting within the youth community- but not enough is being done to harness it.”

What’s ‘vocational’?

Google it! Alright, it means practical. So less academic discussions about the homoeroticism in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, more going out, doing work and getting experience in an actual work place.

But I don’t want to be a plumber

Okay, how about being a Production Office Apprentice for ITV shows, or Buying Apprentice for ASOS? Perhaps a Software Developer, Tax Trainee Associate, or the very cool sounding YouTube apprentice? In fact, you can get an apprenticeship in almost anything, from a makeup artist to an electrician to an air steward to a fitness instructor to a theatre technician. Wide enough range for you?

But why would someone want an apprentice when they could just hire someone who knows everything already?

Not only is it cheaper for the company, but at the end of the training, they’ll have someone who’s more skilled than they would’ve been had they merely taken a course because they’ve learned on the job. Also, you guys have skills the oldies struggle with: “Having grown up in the digital world, young people possess valuable digital skills which many other workers simply don’t,” Ann explains. “That’s why we’re increasing the number of apprenticeships on offer.”

But shouldn’t I go to university?

Gone are the days of casual degree studying; rising tuition fees have meant deeper consideration as to what type of job the course will lead to. Not only that, but university simply isn’t for everyone. An apprenticeship is a great way to learn relevant skills you’ll be able to put into practice in a real workplace soon after learning them, alongside getting a qualification and getting paid. Sounds good, ey?

What’s the pay like then?

Well, the pay isn’t going to blow your mind down Billionnaire’s Lane at first, and the pay depends on the job you’re doing. But you’re learning a skill set that’ll ensure that if, in the worst case scenario, the company you’re training with can’t offer you a full-time position, you’ll be able to find another one fairly easily. “You’re being trained, learning on the job and getting paid to do so,” says Charlotte.

“Even if there isn’t a job at the end, you’ll be skilled enough to find another, or set up your own business. You’ve come out of it with money, and much more than academic learning.” Not that academic learning isn’t useful too, but this is far from being the eternal, woebegone intern.

In other words: you won’t be making tea.

How much is the pay? Where’s billionaire’s lane?

It doesn’t exist, but apprenticeships pay national minimum wage or the minimum wage rate, depending on your age (currently the minimum wage rate for an apprentice is £2.73 an hour) BUT WAIT DON’T STOP READING IT GOES UP VERY QUICKLY, and some even start at £20k.

Shall I quit my A-levels? Or do my A-levels? Or quit my degree?

Any of those things. You can do an apprenticeship instead of your A-levels, halfway through your A-Levels or halfway or after your degree. Some apprenticeships may ask for you to have some qualifications, some may not, but some formal training ones (like working with gas. Stop laughing) require a BTEC or similar. It varies, but there are plenty where just a GCSE in Maths and English will do.

So what will I get at the end of it?

Think work experience, multiply it by a thousand, squint a bit and imagine you can see a job. “Young people are an important part of our business,” says Ann. “We’re privileged to see first-hand the benefits they bring to our workplace.”

All clear now?

Want to find out more about apprenticeships? Come along to one of our free events in London on 9th March, Birmingham on 17th March, Leeds on 19th March or Manchester on 20th March.

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