Meet Jack. Jack is just 20 years old and already has a full-time permanent job, valuable qualifications that are relevant to his role, as well as more than a year’s work experience, and his career path already mapped out. He has no debt either.
That’s because he decided not to go to university and be an apprentice instead. While most people of his age are half-way through an expensive university degree course with uncertain job prospects at the end of it, Jack Dewhurst has finished his apprenticeship and has a job, qualifications and a bright future. This National Apprenticeships Week, we are sharing his story and those of other apprentices.
Apprenticeships have moved on a long way from the traditional image of a young lad learning a craft or manual job from a much older worker. Modern apprenticeships come in all shapes, sizes and in all industries from construction to business, and from HR to marketing and digital communications. And apprenticeship programmes are now run by companies from blue-chips to small businesses.
Jack works full-time as a PR and Communications Officer for the Capital City College Group, in the Group’s busy Marketing team. He creates content for the Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channels run by the Group’s three further education colleges – City & Islington College; The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL); and Westminster Kingsway College – as well as Capital City College Training, the Group’s specialist apprenticeships arm. Jack interviews and photographs inspirational students and staff, creating news stories and case studies for the colleges’ websites, as well as posting to social media.
Jack cut his digital teeth with the Group back in 2016, when – despite having offers from several universities – he started an apprenticeship in digital marketing at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL). During his apprenticeship Jack gained valuable ‘soft skills’ like team working, time management, and prioritisation skills, as well as social media skills and the ability to use a range of industry-standard equipment and software, including Hootsuite.
Jack passed his apprenticeship with flying colours and secured a job in CONEL’s Marketing team as a Digital Marketing Executive. And one year on from that, he has stepped-up again, into his current role in the Capital City College Group Marketing team.
“For me, the main benefit of an apprenticeship is getting the qualifications while gaining the experience,” said Jack. “You’re always going to need that piece of paper to say what you can do, but the practical experience and confidence that you get from an apprenticeship is something else.”
“You’re earning money as well, which has let me go on holidays and to festivals, which maybe people at university can’t afford, and at the end of it I didn’t have any debt.”
But it almost didn’t happen. Like most teenagers, Jack’s parents are a really positive influence on him and so their opinions mattered when it came to Jack deciding which career or education route to go for.
“When I told my parents that I didn’t want to go to university after my A levels, they weren’t happy” Jack explained, “but I did my research into my options and managed to persuade them that an apprenticeship was a valuable and worthwhile alternative. Like many parents however, his mum Sarah was far from convinced.
Sarah takes up the story: “When I asked Jack what he was going to do after leaving school and he said he wanted to do an apprenticeship, I really did have my doubts. When I was growing up, employers used apprentices to do the more menial jobs. They didn’t take the time to teach you anything, just used you as cheap labour.”
“But when Jack started his CONEL apprenticeship, I started to think it was actually quite good. It was five days a week, it was 9-5 and he also had to factor in his travel time to get there. It felt like a proper job and it was preparing him for the real world when he had a full time job.”
Thanks to Jack’s positive experience, Sarah now has a completely different view of apprenticeships. “They have totally moved on. The fact they are backed by a government scheme gave me confidence, in that there are guidelines that have to be followed and I knew there was a certain amount of learning that was going to happen. I think it was good because it got him in to the work place and I believe he matured because of it.”
And Sarah’s advice to parents thinking about career options for their son or daughter? “I would absolutely advise people to look into apprenticeships as well as university. If your child is not sure or they find the idea of more full-on education a little daunting, then I would strongly advise looking into apprenticeships for the insight it gives you into the working world and the possibilities they offer when starting a career.”
Jack has the final word: “For some people university will be the right option. For me apprenticeships give you that edge when it comes to experience employers are going to be looking for.”
For more about apprenticeships and details of current vacancies, click here: https://www.capitalcct.ac.uk/national-apprenticeship-week-2019