Apprenticeship Questions – Time To Dispel The Myths

I am Susan Rashid, Managing Director of SR Supply Chain Consultants Ltd (SRSCC), responsible for Business Development and an active Trailblazer Group member. SRSCC are a training provider who specialise in business and procurement training and have been delivering apprenticeships since 2017.  This month I have asked learners, employers, my team, friends and family to share their thoughts and opinions about apprenticeships.  Clearly my team were biased, so I removed their opinions and came up with some questions instead, using their feedback. 

Common Questions About Apprenticeships

So, here are the common questions and misconceptions about apprenticeships and my attempt to provide answers and dispel the myths;

Why you shouldn’t do an apprenticeship?

You should not do an apprenticeship if –

  • you are under the age of 16 or retired 
  • you have not got a skill or/and knowledge requirement
  • you have not got support of an employer
  • you are not committed to developing yourself
  • you do not want to enhance or develop your career
  • you cannot commit to the full programme duration

In a nutshell, why not? Apprenticeships are open to everyone, provided you are 16 yrs plus and providing there is a knowledge and/or skill requirement.

 

What are the cons of apprenticeships?

  1. They require commitment of time and effort.
  2. You may start at an entry level.
  3. You are often working full time.
  4. A different experience to college.

 

What are the benefits of apprenticeships?

We struggled here as there are so many positives to completing an apprenticeship, including developing knowledge and skills, releasing your potential, being challenged, enhancing career opportunities and gaining a recognised qualification. Apprenticeships combine practical training in a job with study.

As an apprentice you will:

  • be an employee earning a wage and getting holiday pay
  • work alongside experienced staff
  • gain job-specific skills get time for training and study related to your role (at least 20% of your normal working hours)

 

(Source: https://www.apprenticeships.gov.uk/)

 

Are apprenticeships hard to get into?

Quite often apprentices are already in full time work and have a requirement to increase occupational competencies. 

For those that want to find an apprenticeship, you can discover some useful information here.  Many organisations advertise apprenticeship the same way they would advertise for any position; the competition can be high, although I am a great believer that there is a place for everyone.  No matter what your age or background is, using apprenticeship programmes to change or start a new career in a supportive environment is an opportunity not to be missed. 

In addition, there are many government incentives available to organisations for taking on apprentices and from speaking to employers this seems to be proving very popular.

 

Does an apprenticeship lead to a job?

For those not already in a secure role, more often than not yes, but not always. You should discuss this with your employer during the interview. Durations of apprenticeship programmes vary, so many businesses will not guarantee a position at the end. However, on the positive you will have successfully achieved valuable work experience and a recognised qualification which will increase your chances of securing a great job.

 

Is doing an apprenticeship a good idea?

Of course, why wouldn’t it be? As an apprentice you’ll:

  • Be an employee earning a wage and getting holiday pay.
  • Work alongside experienced staff.
  • Gain job-specific skills.
  • Get time for training and study related to your role (at least 20% of your normal working hours).
  • Gain a recognised qualification.
  • Complete an apprenticeship without student debt.
  • Supported by your Training Provider, EPAO and Employer.

Another advantage of being an apprentice is that you are not expected to know everything on day one. You are expected to make mistakes and are supported by your employer to learn and develop.

Having said this, if you are still unsure of your preferred occupation perhaps this is not the route to develop your skills and competencies. We would recommend you speak with a careers advisor who will discuss your skills, interests and experience and discuss various options.

 

Is an apprenticeship better than sixth form?

This depends on you and whether you would prefer to “learn on the job” whilst being paid and receiving other employee benefits. It also depends on what your longer-term plans are, where you want to be and what you want to do.

 

Common Apprenticeship Myths

It’s time to dispel the most commonly held myths about apprenticeships!

 

1. I am too old to do an apprenticeship.

I like to say you can always teach an old dog new tricks! Apprenticeships do not have an age barrier and you should only consider whether you require new skills and if you are approaching retirement, as well as whether you have time to commit to the full duration of the apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships are all encompassing, and the standards are high. Whether a school leaver, graduate or existing employee in a role held for 2 or more years, an apprenticeship could be the answer. Contrary to what many people think, there is no upper age limit with apprentices’ ranging between 16-60 from graduates to upskillers.

 

2. The government creates the learning content of an apprenticeship and is out dated.

Employer led trailblazer groups are responsible for developing and maintaining apprenticeship standards. Each standard is reviewed frequently to check the content is applicable, relevant and up to date.  Being led by employers means the occupational role and competencies are reflective of industry requirements ensuring the skills and competencies gained, guarantee the greatest opportunity for successful employment.

 

3. Apprenticeships are for those that didn’t do well at GCSE’s

Rubbish!  Some individuals learn better whilst being more “hands on” and completing practical tasks “doing”.  Apprenticeships could be considered the preferred option for those that didn’t do so well at their GCSE’s, however, don’t be misled into believing Apprenticeships are an easy option.  Apprentices are challenges and stretched to demonstrate and evidence their occupational knowledge and skills through various forms of assessment. Apprenticeships range from levels 2 through to level 7 which is degree equivalent.  Many of them including professional recognition.

Some apprentices choose to complete a “degree apprenticeship” rather than attend university, as it allows them to gain the academic qualification as well as the work experience.

 

4. Apprentices don’t add value to a business just take a lot of time and effort

Apprenticeship programmes are a great opportunity for businesses to close skill gaps whether they be within the organisation or team.  Developing an employee increases motivation and moral from the apprentice themselves to their colleagues.

Closing skills gaps and increasing motivation and moral will in turn increase productivity, quality and efficiency whilst ensuring continuity within functions. A survey conducted by apprenticeships.gov.uk found:

  • 86% of employers said apprenticeships helped them develop skills relevant to their organisation.
  • 78% of employers said apprenticeships helped them improve productivity.
  • 74% of employers said apprenticeships helped them improve the quality of their product or service.

An apprentice can be a sustainable investment in skills to support businesses as the economy recovers.

 

5. Apprentices are paid minimum wage

Yes, some apprenticeships attract a low/minimum wage. However, some have starting salaries for £18-£20k with milestone increases. Of course, remember apprenticeships are debt free! If individuals already in the workplace require to increase their skills for their role or change of role, salaries are not reduced.

 

6. Apprenticeships are for school leavers

Apprenticeships are open to everyone if they are 16 yrs or older and that there is a knowledge and/or skill requirement.  Our oldest apprentice was 56! (mentioning no names), however anyone of working age is able to start an apprenticeship, perhaps you are looking for a career change or simply attempting to upskill.

Apprenticeships are all encompassing, and the standards are high. Whether a school leaver, graduate or existing employee in a role held for 2 or more years, an apprenticeship could be the answer. Contrary to what many people think, there is no upper age limit with apprentices’ ranging between 16-60 from graduates to upskillers.

 

7. Apprenticeships cost business too much money

Since 2017, the employer levy requires all businesses with an annual pay bill in excess of £3 million to pay a compulsory tax, calculated at 0.5% of the pay bill.  Those who do not pay the levy are required to contribute 10% towards the cost of the apprenticeship, the government then pays the remaining 90%. Although a minimum wage is required, it is up to the employer whether they pay more.

 

8. 20% off the job training means a day per week out of the office or place of work

Incorrect, an apprentice must spend 20% of their working time acquiring new knowledge or skill whether this be in the workplace or their place of study.  There are many activities that can be included in off the job such as:

  • Attending study workshops, E-learning, Revision, Assignments and Research.
  • Team meetings, stakeholder meetings, off site visits, conferences, internal training, performance reviews, industry visits, shadowing, etc.

 

9. Apprenticeships are those wishing to be a plumber or electrician or other ‘manual’ jobs

Incorrect, traditionally apprenticeship were associated with “manual” jobs, however today, apprenticeships are available in all industries, sectors and professions from procurement to bricklaying.

 

10. Apprenticeships are for school drop outs

This perception is incorrect, if there is skill or knowledge to learn for your occupational role then an apprenticeship is ideal.  Here are SRSCC we have had Apprentices with MBA’s and PHD’s who have changed career direction and needed to obtain new skills.  This mix of experience levels and ages is a delightful contrast on the programmes both providing each other with differing levels of support.

 

Choose SRSCC For Your Apprenticeship Journey

Increase procurement knowledge, skills and competency with top accredited Procurement Apprenticeship Standards at SRSCC. Start your career here.

To find the right procurement and supply apprenticeship, please contact us by leaving a message online.
Alternatively, speak to an expert by calling 01772 282555.

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Apprenticeship Questions – Time To Dispel The Myths
2021-03-23T11:37:48+00:00
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Emma Jackson

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Emma joined SRSCC in 2019 on a freelance basis taking on a teaching and learning consultancy role. She has 20 years of experience in education as a qualified teacher, working in adult learning, secondary and primary school settings in the UK as well as abroad, namely Japan, Hungary, and France. 

More recently Emma has been teaching yoga, resilience, and mindfulness in primary schools to promote the physical and mental well-being of both pupils and staff.

Being multi-lingual and having a zeal for communication, cultural exchange and life-long learning Emma jumped at the opportunity to join the company as a Course Mentor. Building a good rapport with her learners, supporting them to overcome any challenges on their apprentice journey and facilitating them to fulfil their potential is her motivation.

Cumbrian born and bred in the Lake District, Emma enjoys the outdoors. When not relaxing in tree pose, she is most at home trail running in the hills with her husband and dog. Having clocked up 4 marathons to date, the application of her long-distance running mindset of perseverance, determination, discipline and patience is key to supporting her learners in their studies.

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