Apprenticeships: questions answered for worried parents

What do I do next? Should I go to University? Is an apprenticeship for me? These are just some of the questions asked by thousands of worried school leavers every year.

Parents also worry about their child’s future, and have their own set of questions. We answer the biggest concerns that parents have about apprenticeships.

In 2014, over 3,500 parents took part in a City & Guilds survey, in which it found that two-thirds of all parents believe they have a major role to play in their child’s education and development, but only half of parents believe they have enough experience and knowledge to do so.

Here are just a handful of questions and answers that could help you advise your child on what to do once they’ve left school or college.

What can I do to help my child find the right apprenticeship?

Every child will turn to their parent for help and advice, but you’re not expected to know everything about the apprenticeship sector.

One of the first things you should do is for both of you to sit down and discuss what sort of career path your child wants to move into. Researching is key, so take the time to do a thorough online search of the industry regarding the industry that interests your son or daughter the most.

Once your child is certain that they want to undertake an apprenticeship, you should aim to get first-hand advice from skills and advisers and employers who take on apprentices. The Skills Show is just one way to expand your knowledge on specific industries.

Is an apprenticeship the right choice?

Everybody works and learns differently, meaning that there are so many ways in which to get the best out of your child.

University and apprenticeships are two completely different ways of learning, but with the improvements made within the apprenticeship sector, your child could ultimately end up having exactly the same career if they went in either direction.

Apprenticeships are a great way of learning new skills first-hand, and your kid will be earning a salary (which may take the pressure off the bank of Mum and Dad!) and gaining an employer-recognised qualification.

This being said, it doesn’t mean that one route is better than the other. You have to discuss this issue at length before allowing your child to make a potentially life-changing decision.

How much choice is there for an apprentice nowadays?

There is so much choice out there for an apprentice in 2015. One of the biggest misconceptions with apprenticeships is that there is only enough choice for those who want to move into the construction or engineering industry, but that is far from the truth.

Now with the emergence of the government’s ‘Trailblazer’ initiative and the rise in higher and office-based apprenticeships, young learners are flourishing in a variety of industries.

If you don’t believe me, find out more about Rosie Ahmadi and David Elikwu, two young London students who have become the first people to be awarded an apprenticeship within the legal sector, taking part in a six-year apprenticeship with international law firm Mayer Brown.

Shouldn’t my child be going to university – they’ll be getting a degree!

Another common misconception is that apprenticeships are made available for those who aren’t clever enough to be awarded a place at university. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The government has been working hard to achieve parity in concerns to the legal treatment of apprenticeships.

During the summer budget, George Osborne announced a number of new initiatives that are designed to improving the sector; including giving apprenticeships equal legal treatment as degrees, meaning that an apprentice is no different to a university graduate.

Also, many top achieving students have rejected the opportunity to study at respected universities, in order to undertake a higher apprenticeship. Take 21 year-old Chloe Jervis for example. She explains why she chose an apprenticeship over going to university.

‘‘In August 2012, I finished Sixth Form with a strong set of A-Level results and a place at The University of Sheffield – but I knew that I didn’t want to pay £9,000 a year for a degree I wasn’t sure I wanted to do.’’

‘‘I decided to pursue an apprenticeship and looked for PR opportunities online after my mum said I’d be good at it. Turns out she was right; PR seems to come naturally to me. I’m now nearly three years in, working on award winning campaigns at an award winning agency and even heading to Rio soon after winning 2014’s Employee of the Year!’’

‘‘Going down the apprenticeship route gave me a foot in the door that I never would have had otherwise – I couldn’t recommend it more.’’