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Show people what apprenticeships can really do

We’ve seen and heard a lot about apprenticeships in the media lately. Judging from TV, social and print media, it’s clear they are a hot topic.

I love seeing apprenticeships getting the airtime they deserve, as they are hugely undervalued. It’s not that they get a bad rap per se, it’s that they are still often seen as the lesser alternative to university.

Some CITB-backed research spells this out, revealing that while nine out of 10 parents think apprenticeships are a good option for young people, only one in three think they’re right for their own children.

That’s a big problem.

We need to change the misconception, especially among parents and teachers, that apprenticeships are less valuable to a person’s career – that you can’t be successful or reach the top of the ladder if you opt for an apprenticeship over university.

I have a son and, as a mother, I of course only want the best for my child. All forms of education have the power to be totally transformative – whether that’s university, apprenticeships or another career pathway.

But increasingly, a first-class degree isn’t always a one-way ticket to getting your dream job.

What are the benefits of apprenticeships?

Young people who undertake an apprenticeship get real, tangible, on-the-job experience. So rather than sitting inside and listening to someone explain things, they’ll be out seeing them done first-hand and then having a go.

“If we want to rival the productivity levels of our near competitors like France and Germany, we must then follow their lead in championing apprenticeships”

More young people are recognising that an apprenticeship avoids hefty student loan debt as well as offering the opportunity to earn while you learn, providing a clear financial headstart.

To get the best of both worlds, you can opt for a degree apprenticeship, where you can combine work with study and graduate with a university degree after three to five years.

Introduced in 2015, degree apprenticeships offer construction trainees a clear route to a university qualification that bridges vocational and academic learning. Several universities across the UK are now offering them in construction and chartered surveying, which should help modernise and professionalise the industry over the next few years.

Rivalling France and Germany

Apprenticeships have the ability to not only transform young people’s lives and set them on their desired career path, they can also have a hugely positive impact on the UK’s economy.

If we want to rival the productivity levels of our near competitors like France and Germany, we must then follow their lead in championing apprenticeships that set young people on a successful, fulfilling and prosperous career path.

So, this National Apprenticeship Week, you can do your bit. Spread the word about Go Construct and get people in your social network to take its personality quiz to find out what construction career is right for them.

Together we can show young people, their parents, careers advisers and teachers that apprenticeships are a first-rate pathway into a great career.

Gillian Econopouly is head of policy and research at the CITB

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