Kyle Lawrence, a 22-year-old apprentice from Essex, is currently working for a logistics company that specializes in moving clothes across the world. Despite the closure of their office and the shutting down of some ports due to the coronavirus pandemic, Kyle is still able to work from home. He continues to learn through virtual workshops and webcam conversations. Sophie Bettelley, an apprentice nurse who works with the Northamptonshire health and care partnership, has also had a similar experience. Sophie is grateful that she can still do phone consultations despite the pandemic. She has been contacting people who are at high risk to check if they have access to food. Even though there’s a lot of pressure, Sophie considers it a privilege to be able to help.
Doing an apprenticeship can be an excellent way to ride out the coronavirus downturn. Employers recruit apprentices throughout the year. Therefore, if you are uncertain about university, there is no harm in waiting to see what becomes of it. Many employers have furloughed their HR departments, and as they start operating again, more jobs are likely to be announced.
However, not all industries are secure, and apprentices are employees, so they face the same risks as other working people. Currently, those working in the motor, retail, and hospitality sectors are the most affected. Nevertheless, that doesn’t always mean they have been laid off.
Jessica Suffield is a 19-year-old apprentice from Bradford who is in her second year of apprenticeship at Porsche. Although she has been furloughed, she is still learning from home through virtual exams and video calls with her assessor. “The company has paid us extra, so we are still getting 100% of our wages,” she says. “I feel supported and think I am in a better position than my friends who went to university.”
According to David Hughes, the chief executive of the Association of Colleges, many companies will not be recruiting as many apprentices as usual. “We anticipate that young people seeking apprenticeships will face more challenges this year. However, we are working tirelessly to secure opportunities with employers,” says Hughes.
Degree apprenticeships might be the best of both worlds as you can obtain a full degree and earn money at the same time. Apprentices are employed throughout the training process and spend part of their time at university (at least 20%) and the rest with their employers. Wales and Scotland have their unique approaches, with graduate apprenticeships in Scotland and higher and degree apprenticeships in Wales.
With more than 100 universities now offering degree apprenticeships, Mark Dawe, the CEO of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, thinks this could be a safer option. “Many of these degree-level apprenticeship programs are core business areas where they will continue to recruit,” he says. “Hiring an apprentice is much better value to the business than having someone coming in cold with a degree.”
Where to Find Information on Apprenticeships
– The National Apprenticeship Service website is the best place to go for information on apprenticeships. Enter your location and use keywords to narrow your search.
– Look into company websites, particularly those of significant employers in the area that you are interested in. Jessica Suffield finds this useful. “I googled apprenticeships near me, and the company website came up. I applied online and got an interview a month later.”
– The UCAS website contains information on higher and degree apprenticeship vacancies. You can also check out university websites to determine what they are offering and with which employer.
– The National Careers Service is an excellent resource for advice. The selection process is stringent. Check out testimonies from previous apprentices to learn how to prepare.