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From the Blog.

Learn while you earn

16. 03. 2023

Zoe, our former apprentice and now fully fledged junior account executive, joined Clearbox because she wanted to work in the industry, but she didn't want to go to university. She inspired us to create an apprenticeship programme. Yep, that's how good she is.

She's got some thoughts on the pathways open to young people as they leave education and go into the world of work. Take it away, Zoe!

National Apprenticeship Week has been and gone but I’d like to talk more about the subject. Within the past few years, apprenticeship schemes have increased far more across the UK, and I would say that’s thanks to businesses becoming more open minded in their application requirements.

It’s now becoming more ‘acceptable’ for students to choose paths other than university. My school life was interrupted by COVID and the big question for me at the time was ‘is university worth it now?’ I knew that my first year at university would be from my bedroom over zoom classes and virtual lectures. It didn’t seem worth my time so, for me, a gap year was my best option after school until I found an apprenticeship programme where I could start earning while learning.

University Vs. Apprenticeship

On the run up to and during my last year of school, the path to university was made out to be our only option or if we chose to take a gap year our whole lives were over. Well, if you’re reading this and think you are in the same position I was, your life doesn’t end, you will be completely fine. Instead of wasting my gap year I looked at other options to start my career path and an apprenticeship caught my eye the most.

Many people are visual learners so for those who need a physical example of their theory work, employment while learning benefits them more than solely theoretical learning. For me, it’s easier to learn something if I’m doing it and that’s why apprenticeships are so great. It gives people the chance to learn theoretically while also using the topics you learn to bring it into the workplace.

The ‘Other’ Options

University degrees can be a fantastic experience that opens many doors for students but not everyone feels that way and that’s why there are now so many other options for those who feel like uni isn’t for them, such as:

Higher Level Apprenticeships (or Degree Apprenticeships in England and Wales) – a degree combining both the academic study of a university degree whilst having the hands-on, practical experience of an apprenticeship.

Foundation Degree – equivalent to two-thirds of a bachelor’s degree, it’s the perfect way to explore a possible career path and develop your work-based skills, theoretically and practically, without committing to a full three years of study.

Apprenticeship – a programme that gives people the chance to earn while they learn whilst gaining a qualification. The programme offers hands on experience in a sector of their choice alongside off and on the job training.

Traineeship – a step before apprenticeships, preparing 16 – 23 year olds for future careers by building on their work experience and workplace skills. It’s an ideal opportunity for young people who are drawn towards the idea of an apprenticeship but lack the skills and experience needed in their chosen field.

Entry level Jobs – this can be either part time or full time that requires no experience or related education. The role would include on the job training to help employees develop their skills and experience throughout their career.

Work Experience / Internships – This can be a fantastic opportunity for young people who are still on the fence about their future career. An internship offers people real life experience of the workplace they hope to break into and can figure out whether it’s the path they want to continue with.

Sources and Opportunities

There are plenty of great sources to find out more information about paths other than university. Workplus offers over 120 apprenticeship opportunities with their ‘My Head Start’ campaign, sharing stories of apprenticeships who are thriving in their career and education.

Clearbox launched the Absolute Beginners programme last year, an apprenticeship programme for school leavers or people who didn’t go into higher education. I had received so much encouragement and support from the team during the Absolute Beginners programme and would recommend it to anyone looking for another option into PR.

Make Your Own Decisions

One thing I can’t stress enough is that your life is your own choice. It’s very easy to be swept away in the commotion of teachers’ and parents’ opinions (I’m not saying don’t listen to your teachers and parents…they know a lot) but don’t let the pressure get to you.

It’s ok if you don’t know what you want to do. You’re only 18, there is still a lot to experience. You may go to university and love it, or you might hate it. Both are ok because there will always be another option or two.

So, for all you students out there thinking about what to do after school…don’t stress, look at all your options, your future will never be the same as anyone else so why should your career path be identical.

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