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Apprentices – they’re not just for Lord Sugar

12 March 2013

This week starting from 11 March is National Apprenticeship Week, which was implemented six years ago to commend the scheme as beneficial for all those involved. Searching the term ‘apprenticeship’ on Google News yields pages and pages of results extolling the benefits of apprenticeship programmes, but is the scheme worthy of all the hype?

The media have been in a frenzy over the topic of apprenticeships in recent months, for instance the Mirror online recently wrote an article about their ‘Keep Britain Working’ campaign and how they are an advocate of apprenticeships. Reading down the page you realise how many companies are jumping on the bandwagon, such as Tesco, McDonald’s, Toni & Guy and more. But this isn’t surprising as apprenticeships can offer companies the chance of bringing in an often ‘fresh’ minded and enthusiastic individual.

A quick scan shows that there are hundreds of apprenticeship schemes that vary from fencing to beauty therapy, dental nursing to the marine industry and so on. Looking at the top 10 unusual apprenticeships I wonder whether I may have missed an opportunity to become a Ghost Hunter Apprentice, in which students learn of supernatural hotspots and ways to interact with the paranormal. Who you gonna call? Perhaps not, I’ll stick with the PR apprenticeship for now. But it just goes to show that the possibilities are endless – there are apprenticeships out there that are suited to everyone’s tastes and aspirations.

Looking online it’s hard to find any apprenticeship bashing, probably due to the fact that economists estimate apprenticeships will boost the economy by £3.4 billion, and David Cameron has now come forward and said apprenticeships are to be ‘the new norm’, and that he believes them to be vital to economic recovery.

I couldn’t write this blog without talking about my own experiences now could I? Initially, the scheme proved a shock to my system as I wasn’t used to the average working day, but as the days followed on from each other I began to adapt. And it wasn’t just my sleep cycle that changed. The scheme is a prime example of something that can’t be taught in a classroom, but rather through experience. Being put directly into a job made me see things from a completely different perspective; I’m now learning genuine skills that are directly applicable to work. In my old mathematics class a popular phrase was ‘When in life am I ever going to calculate the mass of the sun?’, but in an apprenticeship you can see exactly why you’re learning what you’re learning. Everything gets put into context, and it’s refreshing to know that what you’re learning is going to be a useful resource for you in the years to come.

In my apprenticeship, one lesson that is abundantly clear to me is that the industry moves at a phenomenal pace, and in order to have the edge on your competitors you have to keep up to date with the latest trends. What better example than social media; mediums such as Facebook and Twitter are a hugely popular form of communication and therefore they are mediums which need to be understood and which can offer insight into your audience – a sort of ‘social listening’ exercise. Communications professionals were quick to realise the potential in these tools and use them to their advantage. As a result, few integrated communications plans don’t feature Twitter or Facebook somewhere along the way.

Without this apprenticeship I feel as though I would be sat at home in my pyjamas applying for jobs online without a hope. Thanks to my apprenticeship, I’ve been brought into a world of work where opportunity and a future is within sight as opposed to the hazy horizon I once saw.