When the time comes to decide your future, students usually either choose University (alongside a lifetime of debt) or immediately venture into the working world (which has its challenges).
The Budget 2015 has seen university maintenance grants abolished, leaving more students with more debt to manage, or unable to afford a degree at all. And starting out without experience can be a long and hard slog, to get where you want to be. So could it be that this is the time for apprenticeships to shine?
When choosing where to work, charities are not always the obvious place to look. This is because “charity work” often comes with the assumption of volunteer work rather than an office-based position, or an active role in the wider community, where they gain real-life work experience ad skills.
In 2013/14, there were 440,000 apprenticeship starts in England, 70,000 fewer than the year before, which is the lowest since the initiative was launched. This may be because of the alleged myth that they are not regarded as highly as a university degree by employers and within society. However, they are just as significant and it is important that we change this stereotype and welcome them onboard to change the world.
ActionAid UK, Plan UK and Christian Aid are all examples of International charities that have joined forces to produce an apprenticeship scheme that will help young people gain entry to the international development sector. These companies will be recruiting seven individuals, who will attend the 12 months Business Administration Apprenticeship Scheme and will be paid an hourly rate of £8.80.
Richard Miller (Executive Director of ActionAid) specified that he wants to be an “ethical employer” and wants to have a “positive effect” on those living in poverty, as well as the lowest-paid Londoners. He went on to add that this apprenticeship scheme would allow the younger generation, including those without university qualifications, to gain entry into this inspiring sector.
By recruiting apprenticeships from different backgrounds, Miller believes it will create more entry routes into the organisation. It will also give the individuals the opportunity “to earn while they learn” in the working environment, gaining skills and qualifications for their future and the future of others.
Tanya Barron, Chief Executive of Plan UK, thinks that the programme is seen as another way to encourage young people and agrees that it will help to achieve a “more diverse workforce, attracting young people from different backgrounds” and help provide to those who do not have university as an option financially.
It goes without saying that working with charities as part of an apprenticeship comes with a number of benefits for the apprentices themselves. Not only is it rewarding and worthwhile to know you’re doing good (it certainly helps you get up in the morning), it is an opportunity to gain experience and skills in a professional, working environment.
And those aren’t the only benefits. It gives those who, for any reason, didn’t attend university to be given as good of a chance in the working world as those who have a degree. According to a survey on notgoingtouni.co.uk. only 8% of the respondents who undertook an apprenticeship wished they had completed a university degree, whilst 33% of graduates wished they’d gone down the apprenticeship route.
And what about the other end of the scale? Believe it or not, there are also numerous benefits that the organisation itself earns from taking on apprenticeships.
It gives the company a chance to work with new people, as one example. Young people tend to work differently to those who have been working in the same environment for a while, therefore they can offer a new perspective and take on challenges in a new light.
And, similarly, it gives you access to a different audience. Young people know to speak to their peers, and what matters to them. We can learn a lot from organisations like vInspired, who has its own Youth Advisory Board. Taking advice, ideas and concepts from young people, by young people, is a valuable asset. As vInspired Knowledge & Innovation Manager, Samantha Sparrow added: “A patronising communications strategy will not garner results with this age range.”
Plus, 92% of employers said that apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce and they can improve a company’s reputation and increase consumer demand for the goods and services offered by the organisation too. However, most importantly, taking on apprenticeships enables the organisation to grow its own talent.
And of course, by working for charities and incorporating apprenticeships for younger individuals, it will have a major impact for the greater good.
Here at Reason Digital, everything we do is done with the intention of changing lives and to make a difference. We want to encourage younger people to join the campaign and help make the world a better place. Rather than working to make the rich people richer, do a little good and use your skills to help renovate the world instead.
RD note – If you needed further convincing, we’d like to thank Liv, who joined us recently, for writing this brilliant piece. We hope you got just as much out of your stay as we did.