Apprenticeships are a great opportunity to gain both a qualification and work experience simultaneously. If you are debating an apprenticeship, perhaps consider some of these benefits.
No Student Loan Debt
Apprenticeships are funded by your employer and the UK government, meaning you will not incur any student loan debt as you’re not the one paying for your course costs.
This is a huge benefit, and one you will likely be grateful for after completing your apprenticeship. This is due to the fact that you will not be making student loan repayments in your monthly wage once you have your qualification. For most students who make use of the student loans available to them, you have to start paying these back as a percentage of your salary once you earn over a specified amount. For students who start their undergraduate course in the UK on or after 1st August 2023, you will be paying back your student loan as a deduction once you earn £25,000 a year before tax and other deductions.
By doing an apprenticeship, student loans are not a repayment you will need to consider, as your fees are not paid by yourself. As an apprentice, I feel this is one benefit that many other apprentices do not consider at the start and is often a pleasant surprise amongst peers when later realised. This is not something that is always explained to or understood by new apprentices, so I feel it is worth highlighting.
Earn a Salary
It is impossible to talk about the benefits of apprenticeships without mentioning salary. As an apprentice, you will be paid a wage whilst studying. This is paid by your employer at the end of every week / fortnight / month.
The salaries that are paid will vary greatly depending on your age, experience, location, and employer. This is an important point as many apprentice employers will pay significantly above the minimum hourly wage set by the government, so don’t be put off by stigmas surrounding low pay for apprentices. In addition to this, remember that your salary will only ever go up, especially as you become more experienced and develop your skills.
This was one of the main factors when I considered if doing an apprenticeship was right for me. Being able to earn whilst I learn is a privilege not many other students have. This has afforded me the opportunity to purchase items off reading lists, attend study trips, maintain a vehicle and go on holidays which would have otherwise not been possible had I been studying the more traditional routes.
Many employers will assign their apprentices with a mentor at work. This is someone who you can turn to for guidance.
Professional mentors are there to assist you with a variety of matters. You may meet with them to discuss your progress with your qualification, your development at work or even how to work on soft skill development, like time management or public speaking. This is very different to a personal / academic mentor that you may have in your place of study, as your professional mentor will also be able to assist you with matters within the workplace.
In larger companies, a professional mentor might be assigned to more than one apprentice, meaning you can take advantage of this opportunity and discuss your progress in groups. This develops your interpersonal relationships with your colleagues and ensures communication remains open amongst apprentices.
For me, this is the biggest benefit to my apprenticeship. My professional mentor has been monumental in my development, both at work and in academia. We meet weekly to discuss what happened at university that week, and how I am going to push my studies over the weeks ahead.
I feel the most important benefit when undertaking an apprenticeship is the networking opportunity presented to you and the probable connections you will make.
Networking both at your place of study and in the workplace is an opportunity not to be missed. This provides you with an opportunity to discuss what you do and what you’re working towards, often resulting in invaluable advice from those who have already reached the goals you’re aiming for. Not only this, but you may even be presented with job opportunities that you would never have known about had you not networked.
Networking is an excellent opportunity to work on your ability to talk to strangers in a professional setting and in turn improve your confidence. Networking events can be nerve wracking if you’re new to the concept, but there will always be a positive take away from such opportunities.
I feel it is important to highlight, that despite there being many benefits discussed here, these will not be all of the benefits to undertaking this mode of study. In addition to this, I want to highlight that apprenticeships are not right for everyone, and that is completely okay. Many people wish to consider alternative modes of study or employment and there are huge benefits to these too!
Best of luck with your decision!