More and more UK school leavers are becoming aware that university is not the right path for them. However, they have limited information about their alternatives, most notably apprenticeships. Vocational training is considered crucial for building the UK’s future talent base but how can young people be expected to go for that if they don’t have enough information? This issue was the subject of a recent Guardian Professional article, which explored the most common myths about apprenticeships and dispelled them by highlighting the key facts.
To youngsters worried about not having a real job, author Hannah Friend explains that most apprenticeships are actually a full-time occupation. Guidance provided by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) states that apprentices must work a minimum of 30 hours a week, which is slightly less than the 37.5 hours required under regular contracts. Moreover, the minimum duration of an apprenticeship must be 12 months but many programmes stretch for up to four years.
Many young people also fear that an apprenticeship does not offer them security. However, their contract will typically give them all rights enjoyed by other employees, as well as the same employment and career progress opportunities.
Another common myth has to do with the affordability of apprenticeships but school leavers have nothing to worry about on that count: the training costs are covered by the government and employers. As for low pay, that is also a common misconception. The minimum starts at £2.68 per hour but the amount grows over time and research has found that the average apprentice earns a net £200 weekly.
Another myth stopping youngsters from pursuing the apprenticeship route is the erroneous belief that their job prospects will not be improved. This is definitely not the case and numerous studies have provided proof to the contrary. According to recent research by the Office for National Statistics, 85% of apprentices stay in employment and 64% get a job at the company where they completed their training.
Many youngsters also labour under the misconception that an apprenticeship will leave them without a qualification. Depending on the programme they choose (intermediate, advanced or higher), they can finish their training with a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ); a Functional Skills qualification, a technical certificate, a Higher National Diploma (HND) or a foundation degree.