Choosing an apprenticeship over university can lead to career success

Young woman studying at a desk with a laptop open

Many school leavers are opting for an apprenticeship instead of going to university - Credit: Getty Images

The traditional route of going straight from school to university is no longer the only path available for young people looking to progress into a professional career. 

Now, with a wide range of apprenticeship roles available in a variety of sectors, many are opting to start their working life straight after leaving school  by becoming apprentices. 

This route not only allows young people to earn money while training, but can also enable them to achieve equivalent qualifications to a degree. 

For Jasmine King, joining an apprenticeship scheme was the ideal option when looking into what her choices were after finishing her A-Levels. 

Jasmine King

Jasmine King chose an apprenticeship over going to university - Credit: Norfolk County Council

She said: "I started my apprenticeship in September 2019.  Before this, I was at sixth form studying for my A-Levels. I had also applied to study Psychology at university and received all five offers.  I was uneasy about applying and knew that it was not the right pathway for me, my interest and how I learn best.  

"Applying for an apprenticeship does not impact applications to university, so when I came across this apprenticeship with my sixth form careers advisor, I instantly wanted to apply."

Ms King was successful in her application and started as a Level 4 Housing and Level 5 and 6 Chartered Manager. 

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She added: "This apprenticeship stood out to me as I knew I wanted to continue my studies to degree level, as well as the variety of departments in the business which would allow me to establish strong connections and progression routes.  

"I wanted the opportunity to learn, develop and grow, and that is exactly what has happened.  The assessment style of assignments, portfolios, and end-point assessments matched my learning style best as I wanted to progress from paper examinations in a school setting.  

"Despite working part time in retail while studying A-Levels, I was ready to enter the workplace and begin my career.  I have not looked back since starting my apprenticeship."

As well as allowing her to gain a qualification while training and earning money, Ms King will leave the apprenticeship with a job offer. 

She said: "At the end of my apprenticeship, I will start a permanent job with Flagship Group.  

"I hope to have experienced a strong variety of departments across the business and can choose an area that I feel most passionate about.  I hope to continue to my journey of raising awareness about apprenticeships and inspire others to undertake one.  

"This is a huge part of my career journey that I feel very empowered about and will hold throughout my future.  I feel strongly about being present and enjoying the moment, but I am really looking forward to progressing in my career."

How to find an apprenticeship

For those wanting to see what types of roles are available, a good place to start is on the government website, which has a dedicated section to finding an apprenticeship. 

The Norfolk County Council also promotes roles in the region on its website apprenticeshipsnorfolk.org. 

Katy Dorman, apprenticeship strategy manager, said: “We have been seeing record numbers of vacancies in Norfolk consistently for nearly a year now – with over 350 live vacancies across Norfolk most weeks. There isn’t a better time to start applying for an apprenticeship opportunity – no matter what your age, area of interest or apprenticeship level – there is plenty to choose from.

“Check out the ‘Apprenticeships Norfolk' Facebook and Instagram pages where local vacancies are advertised each week or log on to the ‘find an apprenticeship’ page on gov.uk where you can search and apply for vacancies too.

“Apprenticeships Norfolk also offer completely free and impartial guidance to individuals who don’t know where to start.”

For those who have a clear idea of the type of role or company they want to do an apprenticeship with another option could be to arrange work experience with the firm and, if it goes well, ask if they offer apprenticeship schemes. 

Once an apprenticeship role has been found, candidates need to apply for the position. Although each company will have its own recruitment process they often require the submitting of a CV and, if shortlisted, will usually involve a formal interview.