What next?

Eleanor Clarke, September 11, 2015

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It’s finally happened guys, summer is officially over. Our tans have already begun to fade and those gleeful end of school giggles are now an all too distant memory. Autumn is a time of great change for ex students, which can sometimes leave you feeling as directionless as a leaf in the breeze. Even with the promise of all those pumpkin spiced lattés and cozy knit wear, there’s an unnerving sobriety to September. That bullet-shaped question you’ve been dodging all summer, you know that one that goes ‘what are you’re plans for the future?’ can be dodged no longer. The future is now.

So what are your plans for the future by the way? If your answer is still ‘I don’t know’ DON’T PANIC! Plenty of people leaving School and Further Education don’t have an obvious career path in front of them. I for one had no idea what I was doing when I left school. There are many options open to you. One option that’s proving extremely popular at the moment is the national apprenticeships scheme. With the UK boasting over two million apprenticeship starts since 2010 and the government promising to create a further three million apprenticeship places over the next five years, this trend doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon.

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Yeah but what actually is an apprenticeship? I hear you say. An apprenticeship falls somewhere between a job and education. It allows you to earn while you learn in a practical environment. Traditional apprenticeships are open to everyone aged 16 – 24 although funding is not provided to people who already have a degree. There are three levels of apprenticeships in the UK. Intermediate being the equivalent to five GCSE passes, advanced, which is the equivalent of two A-level passes and higher, which leads to a degree-level qualification. So there’s an apprenticeship out there to suit all possible needs. An outdated but prevalent myth about apprenticeships is that they’re only relevant to people who wish to go into a technical trade such as building or carpentry. This simply isn’t true. There’s a mind boggling array of apprenticeships out there, everything from Advertising to Zoology and all alphabetical in-betweens.

I can’t tell you what to specialise in, only you can choose which path to tread but this wouldn’t be Jobsgopublic if I failed to mention some of the most popular apprenticeships are in the public sector. There is currently a small apprenticeship revolution happening in local government with many authorities adopting pioneering apprenticeship schemes such as Stockport’s 100:100. A scheme that first aimed to employ a hundred apprentices in a hundred days but soon after it launched exceeded its initial target.

A career in local government may not seem at first to be the most exciting way to spend your time but I believe the benefits speak for themselves. Local government jobs offer competitive salaries and a work life balance that is often second to none. Many councils offer employees’ flexible working hours and a very desirable amount of annual leave. However, as far as I’m concerned the benefits that make local government work desirable cannot be measured numerically. Please allow me to indulge my inner ‘Leslie Knope’ for a moment while I say this. Local government work matters, it speaks to an essential part of who we are. It isn’t alienating in the way other forms of work can be because it has a direct effect on your local community. Imagine for a moment being part of a team that helps to regenerate a deprived borough, offering a stable environment for children and job opportunities that help people thrive. Do you want to make positive differences to the world and people around you?

University can be fantastic but it’s not for everybody. It often leads to high levels debut with no guarantee of a job at the end. An apprenticeship on the other hand means you’re employed to learn and 90% of all apprenticeships lead to full time employment in your chosen field.

Could you be the next Florence Nightingale? Or perhaps you’re the teacher who ignites the mind of the next Shakespeare. Whatever your future holds an apprenticeship could be the first step on your journey to achieving greatness.

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