All work and no play

Ok, so we’ve looked at the pros and cons, hopefully thats helped make your mind up a little bit further. However, you may still be thinking that as an apprentice you’re not really ‘part of the team’, that you’re just there for your course and nothing more. Well, I’d say that really, those thoughts are not to be worried about. From my experience, and what others have told me, staff often take you in as a new member and try and get you up to speed with your job and company information. Also if theres a company night out, apprentices are often some of the first to be asked along, to make sure they feel included and because younger people can make a formal works night out feel a bit more humourus.

So, to conclude, as an apprentice, you wont feel left out or like an accessory. For nights out with your colleagues, expect something different than you might be used to as a young person, but still, expect good fun and company-paid bar tabs…

 

Until next time!

Tom

Its all one big con trick

So we’ve been through the pros: pay, training, qualifications and experience. Now for the downer to our high, the cons.

The first con that comes to mind is the pay. £2.60 an hour is the minimum apprenticeship wage for the first year of your apprenticeship, regardless of your age. This is set to change to £2.66 from the 1st of October 2012. Some companies do pay more, or may even offer a bonus scheme to offset this low wage. However, its still more than being in college…

The second con that might play on the mind of someone choosing education or an apprenticeship is UCAS points and universities. This certainly played on my mind, leaving college with only AS levels, and no idea what grade they would come out at. My decision was to take the apprenticeship and return to college after finishing the contracted year and do my A-levels, I still kind of hope for that to happen. Apprenticeships often take the form of Btecs or NVQs. The lower grades, such as NVQ Level 2s, don’t carry UCAS points, so if you’re like me and don’t have enough to get into university, this can sway your thoughts, especially when your year is preparing to leave for uni.

The only other con I can think of is some of the tasks you are set. Mostly, you will take the job of a normal employee andy learn their ropes, however, you may get drafted into some of the nastier jobs. My job this week took me away from the comfy chairs, tea and biscuits of the aftersales desks and up into the stiflingly hot roof the building to sort out seven years worth of boxed invoices that were simply piled up with no plan. This wasn’t particularly pleasant and my body certainly knows that after all the heavy lifting! So sometimes, there are storm clouds among a silver lining.

Once again, I hope this helps and I’ll be back in another few days for some more high-speed blogging action!

Tom :)

Be a pro at what you do, with the right training

Ok so, looking at why apprenticeships are a good idea, in short, you get paid, you get trained and you get a qualification. More to the point, you get experience.

Pay is probably what most people look at when choosing between education, a job or an apprenticeship. This doesn’t mean that it is the most important or the best thing about being an apprentice, however. While the minimum apprentice wage is more than you will earn in education, £2.60 isn’t much compared to a job washing dishes. The thing you need to keep in mind is would washing dishes get you anywhere?

Training is really useful if you want to go into a specific career. Its also really good for gaining transferable skills such as problem solving and team work, both of which are looked upon highly by employers. If you show a good attitude during your training that will also look good to your employer, who will write you a nice shiny reference for a nice, shiny new job with good pay.

The qualifications gained through apprenticeships are the formal side of things. They show the training and experience gained during your time as an apprentice and serve as a tool to show yourself off on paper. NVQ’s are fast becoming recognised as peers to A-levels and GCSEs. They can even earn you UCAS points for university, to further educate yourself and get that one step closer to your dream job.

The experience is, in many people’s view, what really counts. Qualifications are all well and good, but everyone has one and it is the experience gained that will really show employers that you shone during your time as an apprentice and that you are a great catch for their company. Experience will show you the things theory can’t because, in real life, ideal situations don’t always exist.

Next we will look at the con’s of an apprenticeship and weigh them against the pro’s, to see which comes out best!

Until then, have a good time :)

Tom

Apprenticeships, are they really any good?

Its a question that I asked myself, friends, family and advisors countless times before signing on the dotted line for a 12 month contract with VW as an apprentice product advisor earlier this year in April 2012. The answers I got back were, while helpful, not entirely useful. Now nearly at the two month mark, (started properly in June), I was dealing with a customer who, upon finding out my employment status, became ecstatic and hugely enthusiastic. Other people too thought that the choice I had made was to be a good one.

I can tell you now, it has certainly been interesting and has promises of many more interesting times to come. It is through this blog that I’d like to invite you to share your opinions and ideas as we look at whether apprenticeships really are the key to solving the unemployment crisis faced by young people today or whether its just another badly run idea for cheap labour.

Feel free to get in contact on this blog, or by Twitter @Tom_Drewed (I’ll be using #blogapprentice if anyone is interested).

Also, while I may work for Volkswagen, this is not an official site, its more my own guide to the UK apprenticeship scheme.

Cheers!

Tom