Are Apprenticeships as good as ‘they’ say?

That’s a good question. Are Apprenticeships as good as they say?

Michelle Graham blog
Niamh and Michelle

Who’s ‘they’ anyway?

Critics are fast to slam apprenticeships – often describing them as the modern-day Y.T.S schemes.  Y.T.S schemes (Youth Training Schemes) offered on-the-job training for a rather reduced pay-packet.

I started my working life on a Y.T.S scheme, and while it was true about the pay and other details, it was a good thing. By working on a Y.T.S scheme, I was eased into working life.

So, what of Apprenticeships?  Are they as good as we like to make out?

Niamh Cain is on a Level 2 Apprenticeship in business and administration and tells us:

I was worked really hard at college to pass my GCSEs. I was also studying ‘heavy’ subjects such as politics. College was hard work, especially with a part time job.

I found that the amount of studying I was doing, along with holding down a part-time job was all becoming too much, and I was suffering with stress.

At college, there isn’t enough information given regarding apprenticeships – it’s all about obtaining certain grades in order to gain a place at university. As a result of this, as well as myself, I have witnessed a lot of young people suffering with stress.

Niamh goes on to tell us:

I took the decision to look for an apprenticeship. I was fortunate to gain a place on the apprenticeship I am current doing.

In the space of a year I have come a long way. I no longer suffer with depression, I have got a job I love and have also recently passed my driving test.

Regarding barriers faced for young people accessing apprenticeship opportunities, Niamh goes on to tell us how certain processes may be putting young people off, such as interviews - more so, lack of interview preparation in college.

I feel the interviews for the apprenticeship were more stressful than ‘normal’ interviews simply because there are more of them. For example, not only did I have to have an interview with my employer, I also had to have an interview with the college to prove I was able to complete the study required.

If I were to pass on any advice to other young people, then it absolutely would be to prep as much as possible.

The best bits and worse bits:

I’m a very hands-on person, so on-the-job training is good. My manager is very supportive, and I am learning a lot of valuable work skills.

My assessor is very approachable, and I am not afraid to ask questions when I don’t understand something. Apprenticeships are good if you have a learning disability - I’ve found it’s a win-win situation in the way my training is split.

Everybody says you won’t go far in life without a university degree - apprenticeships give you the same valuable qualifications without the debt racking up - you earn as you learn.

Worst bits – as I’ve already mentioned, the interview process.

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Michelle Graham

Michelle Graham currently works on the GMB Learning Project in the Yorkshire Region. 

She's been part of the team for six years, and prior to this was working as a TUC Tutor (part-time), and a 'Roving Rep'.