Busting The Myths of Apprenticeships

By Dayna Spear, December 12, 2018

Hey everyone! I hope you're all well on this fine Winter's day.

Since becoming an apprentice (and working with apprenticeships) I've found it shocking and a little bit crazy about how many pure myths surround them.

I do believe the 'stigma' around apprenticeships is slowly disappearing as people learn more about them and their benefits to not only young people but also businesses. However, there are some things I've heard that I want to address as a firm supporter of them!

1 - Apprentices get paid badly!

As with any age bracket or job in the UK, there's a minimum wage requirement. For apprentices, this will stand at £3.90 by April 2019.

Sure, it's lower than other minimum wage requirements, but you need to remember that you are in training with an apprenticeship - you're not qualified for the job until you complete it!

It's worth noting that the majority of businesses do pay more, and its unlikely you will be paid the absolute minimum wage - in fact, you may even get pay rises throughout your apprenticeship.

Another point to remember is that if you're aged 19+, you must be paid the standard National Minimum Wage for your age bracket after the first 12 months of your apprenticeship. Those younger or within the first year of their programme will receive the apprenticeship minimum wage, until they're older and/or complete the first year.

2- You don't gain anything valuable from an apprenticeship!

Wrong - you will walk away from your apprenticeship (granted you complete it) with a brand spanking new, industry recognised qualification. And, if you do an apprenticeship Levels 6-7, you'll get a degree... with no debt from university!

With an apprenticeship level 2-5, you will most likely gain an NVQ qualification. If you don't quite understand the apprenticeship levels, check out our handy blog post explaining them.

3 - Apprentices don't do as well as university graduates

Obviously, this totally depends on the individual, the industry and the qualifications - it would be silly to generalise such big groups of people!

But, let's think about it - firstly, as an apprentice, you will avoid the average £50,000+ debt that comes with university. And, you'll be earning money throughout, building up your experience and most likely getting to a higher level than you would be after leaving university with no work experience and a huge amount of debt.

Notably, according to the National Apprenticeship Service, an advanced level apprenticeship can hike up your lifetime earnings by up to £117,000. And, whether you go for the traditional university route or complete an apprenticeship, a degree-level qualification can be gained via both ways. Often, some degree-level apprenticeships can have starting salaries of up to £25,000... not bad, not bad.

Furthermore, a 2016 report from the Sutton Trust found that apprentices with a qualification level 5+ earn approximately £50,000 more in their lifetime than someone with an undergraduate degree from a university outside of the Russell Group. Food for thought.

4 - You'll just be treated as the 'tea maker'

I can't even put into words how much of a myth this idea is! Employers hire apprentices to bring new talent to their workforce and up-skill their business - do you really believe a company would hire an apprentice so they can become an expert in Instant Coffee making? No.

Just because you might be the youngest person on the team, that doesn't mean you're the chief tea maker for everyone. And, if you are, there's a problem there - seek advice from your training provider!

5- Apprenticeships are only for manual/non-academic careers

Sure, there may be plenty of fantastic opportunities via apprenticeships for those of us who would prefer a non-academic career, but apprenticeships are not limited to that - that's a very outdated view.

There's everything and more for manual or vocational routes (such as mechanics, hairdressing, childcare or highway maintenance to name a few) however the options have become so vast that there are now quite literally hundreds of paths to choose from.

Plenty of individuals are actually choosing apprenticeships (degree or non-degree level) over the typical university route, because what they offer can be undeniably amazing. The STEM options are ever-growing (STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and you can now become an apprentice in subjects such as Laboratory Science, Software Development, Law and plenty more. The list goes on, and although it sounds cliche, there truly is something for everyone. Get in contact with us if you'd like to find out more about the unknown opportunities that lie ahead!

6 - Businesses don't like hiring apprentices!

Actually, in 2016/2017, apprenticeship starts reached a record high of over 900,000 - nearly 13,000 more than the year before! The government apprenticeship website has had as many as 13,000 vacancies on it at one time, and this is all only going up - the government is investing a great deal (£2.45b) into it to help reach the target of 3 million starts by 2020.

So, there we have it - consider apprenticeship myths busted.

Were you surprised about anything we discussed today - the myths people believe or the answers to them?

If you'd like to find out more about the opportunities apprenticeships can bring, sing up below to have a chat with us about what we could do for you!

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