Ready to get your career going but not sure where to start? While many people see a university degree as the gateway to future job opportunities, these days it’s far from the only option. An apprenticeship is an alternative that allows you to start earning straight away, while also learning the practical skills needed for whatever area you decide to specialise in.
This can make apprenticeships very appealing – but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best option for everybody. To work out whether it’s the best step for you, you’ll need to consider your current needs and future aspirations.
Apprenticeships allow you to build skills in one specific area
This can be both a pro and a con, depending on how sure you are about the career you want. If there’s a particular job or career path that you’re very interested in, then an apprenticeship will allow you to gain experience and learn from others who already have skills in that area. You’ll learn some of the theory, and get the chance to develop your skills.
For those who are less certain about the area that they want to specialise in, this can mean that you risk limiting your options should you decide to take a different route. Realistically, though, you will be learning transferable skills which will prove valuable even if you decide to switch into a different role. Deciding on a path for the future and committing to it can be difficult, but eventually we all have to take the plunge.
You’ll earn while you learn – but it’s a low wage
Going to university, or even a local college, can be a huge drain on your resources. Aside from the loans needed for the tuition fees themselves, there are also living costs to take into account – and the long hours of study can make it difficult to pick up many hours even if you have a part time job. In contrast, an apprenticeship gives you instant access to a regular salary.
However, you’ll also be earning a lot less as an apprentice. For many, it doesn’t offer a living wage, and you’ll have to find ways to subsidise your lifestyle (such as living with parents). That’s not necessarily a problem, but it’s worth considering whether a few years of study will allow you to start your career a little higher up the ladder.
Understand the real world of work
Academic courses are often criticised for doing little to prepare their students for the real world of work. No matter how much theory you learn, it won’t help you to develop the soft skills needed for interacting with co-workers and customers.
As an apprentice you would be thrown straight into the real world of work and all the pros and cons of being a salaried employee. This will give you a fantastic set of transferrable skills that you will be able to take with you even if you decide to move into a different career or sector.