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Careers Flexible Working Students and Graduates

The Apprenticeship Route: Why it is a smart choice

The Apprenticeship route is a path to employment that has been around for decades. Despite many positive attributes, apprenticeships have almost become a second class career path. Taking a backseat to other means of gaining employment. This blog post will be looking at some disillusioned stigmas associated with apprenticeships. And why currently it is one of the smartest routes to take to gaining employment.

Are schools diverting traffic from the Apprenticeship Route?

In 2019 I conducted a survey within high schools with students and teachers as part of my internship. To find out which routes to employment they were most encouraged to take. The results were that the majority of students found apprenticeships appealing. Yet only a minority would actually choose this route. Students felt they did not have enough accessible information on apprenticeships.

The teachers’ survey yielded similar results. They claimed that the majority of students go to university. The teachers also admitted that there is ‘sometimes’ a stigma with other post-education career paths. They did say these attitudes are changing, but felt the other career paths are not as encouraged as university. Many said there could be more accessible information within schools on the apprenticeship route.

The results showed schools encourage the university route more than other career paths. A general comment made by teachers is that views on the apprenticeship route are changing and becoming more positive. Yet, that implies it is changing from a negative view, which should never have become prominent in the first place. One thing is clear, schools need to provide more encouragement and accessible information on apprenticeships. To do otherwise if depriving students of opportunities that could potentially lead to a fulfilling career.

The Impact of Parental Views on Apprenticeships

Parents want what is best for their children, it is their innate priority. And for a lot of young people, family opinions/encouragement is what impact’s their decisions the most. Parents can often map out their child’s career journey before they can even walk. Could pre-existing bias or misconceptions of post-education routes be impacting their children’s choices?

A survey on Young Persons’ Behaviour and Attitudes relating to careers advice and guidance, was conducted Island between September 2019 and February 2020. Statistics showed that over two thirds (68%) of pupils agreed their family encouraged them to go to university. 2% more than the number of students who agreed it was their own choice to go to university. These statistics are worrying. Showing that parent encouragement of the university path could be detracting from the number of children choosing other (just as successful) routes to employment.

This shows a bias towards the university route. It’s clear the majority of parents think that university is the best path their child can take. They should focus on what career their child is pursuing. As the university route is not always the best way to get there. For many parents, their proudest moment was when their child received their degree. And they should be proud, that is an amazing achievement. However they also need to keep their priorities straight; which is more important? That framed cap and degree, while their child is upstairs on their computer struggling to find work? Or the knowledge that their child has a fulfilling career and were encouraged to choose the best means to get there? Parents must not let misconceived bias and pride derail them from doing what is best for their child’s future.

The Apprenticeship Route vs The University Route

Every job role is subjective; some require certain routes to get there. This section is less about deciding which route is better and more about creating a level playing field. It is true that there are many pros to going to university. Yet there are more than a few cons too. And it is a fact that apprenticeships do not have these same cons.

Certain job roles specify that they want a degree in the field. However, to some employers its does not mean that much. University is expensive, often new students have to borrow the money to go to university. You are essentially in debt before you have even gotten into a full time career. Also you are giving up three or more years of your life to studying. There may be less time consuming routes that lead to the same outcome. There is a level of exclusivity to some courses; they can be difficult to get into. You may find yourself a few points shy of the minimum and unable to get onto the course you want. An apprenticeship can be a worthwhile alternative.

You don’t pay to do for the apprenticeship route, you get paid. Although payment is the least you get out of an apprenticeship. What is more important is the experience you will gain. Employers are becoming as interested in experience as they are in a high level qualification. You may be able to do work placements and voluntary work while in university. But won’t gain as much experience as the full specified training while doing an apprenticeship. Some employers conducting apprenticeships tend to take on once they have achieved that qualification. As they have spent time and money training someone how to do a job and to do it well. No route is better than the other, they are equally beneficial. But you may find one will yield results more than the other depending on the job role you’re aiming for. 

The Flexible Route

It is important to point out that more young people require flexible working hours and study time. They could be young parents. Or have relatives they need to look after or have physical or mental health needs that need catering too. There is a stigma that flexible working is primarily reserved for single mums or people over a certain age. However on, Find Your Flex, 47% of flexible job seekers using the site are male and around 60% report they don’t have children or their children are aged 17+. So no one should make this assumption. Everyone should be entitled to flexible working and young people are no exception, the same goes for their post-education routes. Is it fair that a young person cannot gain a higher qualification because they may have to look after an unwell relative? Of course not. Which is why apprenticeship providers, universities and employers need to begin making changes. To incorporate not only flexible working but flexible study into their courses.

Covid-19 has shown us how vital this is. In the face of the greatest threat of our generation, we have had to make changes. Yet we shouldn’t have had to adapt as much as we have. If society made changes to incorporate flexible working and study before this pandemic, not as many people would have suffered. We wouldn’t have has such a drop in grades and rise in unemployment. When we return to normality, we cannot forget the lessons it taught us. We cannot throw away the importance of flexible working and study; we cannot make the same mistakes twice.  

The rise of the Apprenticeship Route

Find Your Flex has been on this mission long before Covid. Yet we will continue to ensure flexible apprenticeships continue long after the fight against this virus is won. Visit out apprenticeship hub: at https://jobs.findyourflex.co.uk/apprentice-hub to find out more. We work with organisations that are making the significant changes to ensure that flexible working is available for everyone. If this encompasses you, do not hesitate to look at our apprenticeships. As you may find the perfect apprenticeship for you that will lead to that job you are striving towards.

The apprenticeship route isn’t exclusively for school leavers either, it is available for anyone older than that. Even graduates, don’t assume that because you chose to do a degree that you cannot or should not consider the apprenticeship route. If you find yourself struggling to enter the field you want, an apprenticeship could be the perfect way in. For more advice on what graduates can do or should not do to gain a career after graduating, have a read of this blog post: After Graduating: Getting that first step on the job ladder

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Careers Students and Graduates

After Graduating: Getting that first step on the job ladder

The first thing on a graduates mind when leaving university is getting their dream job. Yet, this is not as easy as it seems. This blog post we will discuss steps graduates should take both during and after graduating to get that first step on the job ladder.

Do more than study hard.

It can seem logical while in university to put your entire focus on your studies and nothing else. This way you come out with the best degree. That should grab an employer’s attention, showing them you are hardworking, dedicated and know your stuff right?

No. That may seem blunt, but it is important to rid yourself of that style of thinking as it is self-sabotage. Yes, you should put as much effort as you can into achieving the best grade possible. But your degree alone will not get you your dream job.

This doesn’t make your degree is any less valuable and it will still count for something when an employer is looking at your CV.

The Paradox of Experience.

There is a lot of competition for job roles out there and for employers their main focus is one word. If you haven’t got it, it can become public enemy number one when trying to secure a decent job role in your desired field. That word/attribute is; experience.

This is becoming an all too essential requirement in job descriptions these days. It can lead to hair pulling frustration for graduates when reading job descriptions. You have all the knowledge and skills, then the bottom of the page and it reads: “A minimum of 1 years experience required”.

For graduates experiencing this first hand, you realise the paradox you are presented with. How can you gain experience for a job if you can’t get a job to gain the experience?

Overcome this barrier (early on).

The answers are hard to swallow for those who are looking for work after graduating. It is important to gain access to these while still studying. The best way to gain experience is through securing work placements, internships or voluntary work.

Most of these will take up a decent amount of your free time and most of these positions are unpaid. Yet, you will find that in the long run the experience you gain from these opportunities is worth far more than any wages the company would pay. The more experience you have on your CV the better.

Though you should do this after graduating, it would be better to secure this kind of work while studying. Most universities have resources or facilitators that can help to secure these roles. Don’t let experience become the biggest road block on your career journey; it can be a difficult one to overcome.

Apprenticeships After Graduating

For a graduate fresh out of university, their primary goal is full time employment. Though as discussed before, a degree isn’t a guarantee that you will secure a role, especially in the field you are aiming for. Even experience through work placements and voluntary work may not be enough.

If you have a specific job in mind, the internship/apprenticeship route might be the best option to get you there. For some graduates this can be frustrating, apprenticeships can feel like a career path that you choose instead of university. This is not the case, from 2017 to 2018, a 34.37% majority of apprentices in the UK were aged between 19-24, a further 18.55% being 25-34 year olds.

Apprenticeships have their own advantages that can be used in conjunction with the knowledge you gained from your degree. They answer key parts of job descriptions. Tending to be more specified to roles and they answer that experience need. With an apprenticeship you learn the job while doing the job, which is becoming more and more appealing to employers.

 See an opportunity for what it is.

It is important graduates don’t let preconceived views of apprenticeships deter them. There is no reason why you shouldn’t seek to gain an extra qualification; it makes your CV look better not worse. Society has made university the more encouraged path of higher education for years. The truth of matter is, apprenticeships are equally rewarding in terms of gaining employment.

This is a stigma that is changing, so don’t let this influence you when deciding whether to go down this route. It is understandable that beginning an apprenticeship after graduating from years of study can feel like spending more time in education. A frustration to some who hoped to be done with education and want to start work.

However, with an apprenticeship you are working. And your getting paid to learn the job whilst you are in it, so it is not the same. There is also unavoidable factor that with some companies it is the best/only way in. If in the end it gets you the dream job you’ve always wanted, why wouldn’t you take this opportunity that lies before you?

Don’t limit yourself.

Do not place restrictions on yourself while looking for work. You may have secured your degree in your chosen subject with one specific job in mind. Yet, the chances of you walking straight into that job after graduating, are slim to none.

This of course depends on what your personal dream job is. If it requires a certain level of experience, you need to lower your expectations. Some employers want to see your skills and experience demonstrated in another role. They may see potential in graduates, but sometimes they want more than that. You must also be prepared.

If you are adamant about only applying for one specific type of job, you are limiting the number of opportunities that will come your way. What if the job you want isn’t out there right now? If you do nothing else in the meantime, you’re even less likely to secure that role when it does appear. Those gaps in your CV don’t go unnoticed.

Be Flexible in your choices.

There is no reason why you can’t get a different job in the same sector your desired job is in. You will gain invaluable skills and experience which can only benefit you. Employers will be drawn to fact that you have spent time working in the industry and will have an idea of how things work.

Though, you should still not rule out working in a different industry than the one you are aiming for. A diverse knowledge and skill set will look impressive on your CV. When applying for other roles you can make these transferable to said role. Employers will see you as versatile, someone who is looking to develop a broad skill set which can be appealing to them.

The Job for you is not always the Job you want.

There is a personal aspect to keep in mind, it’s a bit cliché, but it rings true; when job searching after graduating, be careful what you wish for. Gearing your education and focus towards a certain job, that does not mean it will be what you thought if/when you get it.

That may sound negative, and an attempt dissuade you from your dreams, but that’s not the case at all. It means you may think a certain job is perfect for you and when you finally get into it, it doesn’t fit you as well as you might have thought.

Which is why it’s important to pursue other job opportunities. You may find that a job you were not dreaming of, is more comfortable and rewarding than the one you were aiming for.

Where to look?

Finally, it’s important to use every resource out there to gain employment. Don’t just think indeed and total jobs are your only options. Check company websites, jobs boards and that ever growing behemoth social media.

There are job boards that target specific niche target audiences. Don’t avoid these if you feel you don’t fall into that category, you might find a job you know you can do well, so go for it!

Your career journey begins after graduating. And there are infinite roads with their own twists and turns. Don’t be afraid to divert from you planned course to explore them, you may find it suits your far better!

You can start by looking here: https://jobs.findyourflex.co.uk/jobs/

Here’s another blog advising how to create a good Linkedin Profile: Top 10 Tips for a Compelling LinkedIn Profile