Traditionally, vocational routes were looked at as the route for non-academic students, but modern apprenticeships are challenging, well-respected, and sometimes the better choice for getting into a particular industry. In this guide, we show you what apprenticeships are and whether or not they’re a good fit for your child.
Let’s start with some mythbusting:
Myth 1: Apprenticeships are for children who don’t get into uni.
This is false!
Apprenticeships are not a ‘back up’ or ‘fail safe’ for students who don’t achieve their Level 3 grades. Apprenticeships are simply a more hands-on approach to getting into an industry. They are a way for students to study towards a qualification while earning money doing the job they’re training for.
For example, a child who wants to be an accountant could study a degree in accountancy and start looking for a job when they finish university, or they could learn on the job and work towards an accountancy qualification on an apprenticeship. Both routes will lead to them becoming an accountant: one is more study-based, and one is more practical.
Check out the solicitor profile in our Careers library for an interview with an apprentice solicitor.
Myth 2: Children with degrees get promotions at work over those who did an apprenticeship.
This is also false!
Both routes give students the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in their chosen careers and employers don’t value one route over another (unless the career requires a degree, like a vet or teacher). Many industries — art and design, sales, and construction, for example — favour industry experience over academic study, meaning students who have taken an apprenticeship or studied a degree with a year in industry tend to do better as they’ve already built up the experience they need.
In fact, the Sutton Trust found that the best apprentices can earn up to £52,000 more than graduates from non-elite universities over their lifetime!
Myth 3: You can’t do both.
Another false one!
You can study an apprenticeship or a degree at any point in your life so you can do one now then do the other later on.
There’s also the option to do both at the same time. Degree apprenticeships are exactly what they sound like: students can study for a degree and work in a related field at the same time, giving them the best of both worlds. This is only available in a limited number of industries though.
Students with Unifrog accounts can use the Apprenticeships Shortlisting tool to find and compare live opportunities in their local area.
An apprenticeship might be the right path for your child if…
- They want to earn while they learn
- They prefer hands-on learning to writing essays or attending lectures
- They want or need lots of experience on their CV
An apprenticeship might not be the right path for your child if…
- They like their academic studies
- There isn’t an apprenticeship route into the career of their choice
- They want the ‘university experience’
Talk to the careers adviser at your child’s school for more advice.
Good stuff from elsewhere
The Sutton Trust's Research
Find out more about the Sutton Trust's work on apprenticeships.