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10 myths about apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are increasing in popularity with learners, as the cost of university spirals and a tough economy means more competition for fewer jobs.

Jade O'Donoghue
12th February 2016
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As a result we are inundated with information about this practical skills-based form of education and there are a lot of opinions out there that can muddy the water as you try and decide whether an apprenticeship is for you. To make things a bit clearer, we’ve decided to debunk a few myths that might still be floating around...

 

Myth

Doing an apprenticeship isn’t as good as doing a degree.

Fact

The truth is it’s hard to compare the two since they are very different types of training. Neither is better than the other though as they both have their merits depending on what career path you have in mind. Some will require a degree; others will expect you to complete workplace training. The best thing to do is research your chosen career and the most popular routes into it.

 

Myth

Doing an apprenticeship will open many doors for you.

Fact

It won’t. It will open one very specific door in a certain industry and train you to be an expert in it. Unless you know what career path you’re going to follow, an apprenticeship won’t be very helpful. Of course, it will open many of these proverbial doors within the industry you decide to take it in, as you’ll learn a great deal about the subject and be able to work in a number of roles within it afterwards.

 

Myth

Apprentices don’t get treated fairly in the workplace.

Fact

Apprentices are employees as much as anyone else and thus you are entitled everything other employees are. You’ll be given the correct number of working hours according to your age, appropriate breaks and will be paid the national minimum wage for apprentices at the very least. If you don’t feel you are being treated fairly there are steps you can take to address this too – just because you are an apprentice doesn’t mean you don’t have employment rights.

 

Myth

If you take an apprenticeship you won’t earn as much as your fellow school leavers.

Fact

Well to start with you will – after all, apprentices do get paid to learn and other courses don’t tend to pay people to do them. However, as with most careers, how much you earn in the long term really depends on the industry you go into and how hard you’re prepared to work to climb the ladder.

 

Myth

Apprenticeships are for people who aren’t intelligent enough to go to university.

Fact

This is a really old fashioned view and sadly one that many still have about apprenticeships when actually they are quite demanding and there are many that go up to the same levels as degrees. It’s not so much about how intelligent you are and more about what you want to do in your career and how you like to learn. Certainly, they’re more practical and hands on than university courses but it doesn’t mean they are intellectually inferior.

 

Myth

Apprenticeships guarantee you a job afterwards.

Fact

Unfortunately this isn’t true and the Guardian recently reported that even government apprentices don’t always get offered jobs when they’ve finished studying, with only 10% of them being hired. However, there’s no doubt that it will increase your employability and there are many more stories of apprentices being hired by the firms they study with than not.

     

Myth

Apprenticeships can only be done in hairdressing and beauty or trades like plumbing and bricklaying.

Fact

There are loads of subjects you can take an apprenticeship in! Think, digital marketing, business administration, play work (yes, you actually get to play with children on adventure parks and the like), sports turf management, law...the list is endless so it’s worth doing your research to find the one that suits you.

 

Myth

If you take an apprenticeship and then decide to go to uni after, you can’t get financial help from the government.

Fact

This depends on the level of apprenticeship you take. Some go up to the same level as degrees and so understandably, you can’t get help financing both because then you’d have two qualifications at the same level. You can still get funding if your apprenticeship wasn’t at higher education level and you will get part funding if your apprenticeship when to HND or foundation degree level and you’re ‘topping up’ and doing an honours degree. If you’re not sure where yours is at, have a look at this framework created by the government to show which qualifications are the same as others.

 

Myth

Only young people can do apprenticeships.

Fact

They’re for any age. Obviously, the low pay does make them easier when you’re younger and perhaps living with parents who will support you and with less out goings than when you’re older and so for that reason the majority of people who take them are aged 16-19. However, anyone of any age is eligible to take an apprenticeship and the number of over 25s signing up is on the rise so if you’re not quite fresh out of school, you won’t be on your own.

 

Myth

Apprentices need to spend a lot of time at college so might as well just do a regular college course

Fact

This is not true at all. In fact, most of the qualification is gained in the workplace with only a few hours in college per week so apprenticeships are not like college courses at all. They will be less about taking notes and exams and more about mastering skills and putting them to practical use in your working environment.

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