Is an apprenticeship for you?
Five important questions to ask yourself if you’re thinking about an apprenticeship
Apprenticeships can be a great way to get a foot on the career ladder. But before you jump on, it’s worth making sure it’s the right option for you. Here are a few things to consider to help you make an informed decision…
1. Does the the job, and the industry, interest you? An apprenticeship will certainly help you develop skills that will be useful in any job – in areas like teamwork, timekeeping or communication. But their main function is to prepare you for a very specific kind of work, whether that’s childcare or car maintenance, so it’s important that you’re interested in that area and keen to learn about it. If not, you risk being bored, feeling unfulfilled or perhaps not completing the apprenticeship – so make sure it’s something you really want to do.
2. Have you looked at other options? It’s always useful to look at the other paths you could take, even if it’s just to rule them out. For example, you might be interested in college or uni. Or you might want to travel, volunteer or get some work experience before you commit to an apprenticeship (or anything else). You might even want to get a full time job and save some money while you think about your options.
3. Can you afford it? Apprentices get paid and don’t have to deal with tuition fees or any of the costs associated with going to university. However, it’s important to recognise that not all apprenticeships pay the same amount, and that some pay very little. That doesn’t mean they’re no good or not the right option for you, but you need to consider your finances carefully. Can you live at home while you study, to keep costs down? Will you need to get a second job at the weekends to help? It’s good to find out exactly how much you’ll be earning and work out your budget – the Money Advice Service (moneyadviceservice.org.uk) can help with this.
4. Will you feel like you’re missing out on student life? Student life isn’t perfect. It can be expensive, challenging and you can find yourself living in dubious digs with a depressing reliance on value noodles for tea. On the other hand, going to university does offer the chance for a unique blend of studying, socialising, trying out new activities and finding out about yourself without the pressure of work. While it’s not for everyone it can also be really liberating, so if the idea appeals and it’s an option for you, make sure you think about it carefully, so you don’t end up regretting not being a student.
5. Are you up for the challenge? An apprenticeship isn’t an easy option. You’ll need to get used to life at work, which can be a big change from school or college with early starts and long days; you’ll be expected to be responsible and focused; you’ll have to manage your own money; and you’ll have to find the time for your studies as well as your work and social life.
If you like the sound of rising to those challenges, as well as meeting new people, learning new skills and growing as a person, an apprenticeship may well be for you. Give yourself some time to think, get advice from friends and family (and your school or college) and then decide what feels right for you.
Find out more about apprenticeships and what apprentices do at apprenticeships.gov.uk or call 0800 0150400