Apprenticeships are a great alternative to formal education. They offer an opportunity to gain practical hands on knowledge by actually working on real projects in the real world. Not only can apprenticeships help people learn job specific skills, but they also improve future job prospects by offering valuable work experience.
Various trades, arts and crafts were traditionally learnt by way of apprenticeships where an apprentice would work under someone skilled and experienced to get that all-important hands on experience.
Apprenticeships not only provide a way for people young and old to gain valuable skills, but they also add value to industries, organisers and employers in general. They also improve the economy by offering a way for people to acquire skills and get into work. For industries that require a skilled workforce, apprenticeships can be a great way to support the development of a new workforce and contribute to the community.
Apprenticeships can be undertaken at different levels, and depending on the level of the apprenticeship training, the nature of the work and the kind of study involved in the apprenticeship, you can gain an appropriate qualification – for instance National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs), Functional Skills Qualifications (FSQs), Higher National Certificate (HNC), Higher National Diploma (HND) or a Foundation Degree.
Although they are not as commonplace today perhaps as they once were, apprenticeships are very much part of the educational pathway in the UK, and provide great alternatives to university. The government are making every effort to reintroduce and encourage apprenticeships as a way to gain experience and develop a firm footing within a particular industry.
As such, the coalition government have put apprenticeships at the top of their employment agenda and are developing ways to try and make them accessible and more widely available in the coming year.
It should be understood, though, that an apprenticeship can only be as good as the work it involves. The aim of the apprenticeship system is to gain skills and experience that can help an individual improve their prospects of finding gainful employment in the future. Apprenticeships are therefore normally viewed as a stepping stone towards employment and more professional opportunities.
Information about different apprenticeship training, pathways, eligibility criteria, rules for England, Scotland and Wales etc. can be found in the working, jobs and pensions section of the government’s official website at https://www.gov.uk/apprenticeships-guide. You can also find information about how to apply for apprenticeships and learn more about your rights as a waged apprentice.
The last year saw apprenticeships being at the top of the list of priorities in the government’s plan to improve employment and revive the economy, and we can expect the same level of support and encouragement, if not more, over the course of 2013 too. For a time recently apprenticeships seemed to be becoming lost; however, at least the current government has seen their true worth and has taken steps to continue to promote them in the future.