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Suite 305 - Queens Dock Business Centre

67-83 Norfolk St


L1 0BG

As my nephew stands on the brink of leaving 6th form, my brother and sister in law told him to take my mind off Jurgen Klopp leaving Liverpool and ask me what he should do in the summer. Basically in School apprenticeships have been mentioned especially for his classmate looking at working in engineering but he has been subject to having university rammed down his throat since making his GCSE options. As well as not thinking about what Liverpool are going to do next my Brother and sister law knew I work in the wonderful sector of FE & Apprenticeships and I have managed to blag them that I am an expert.

In all seriousness the fact that I am some one that my nephew who is intelligent and pro-active needed to reach out to me to discuss the idea of degree vs apprenticeship route is concerning in its own right and raises a bigger question about the advice and guidance he is getting in schools but how pro-actively we as a sector are working to engage young people on their next step of learning.

Below is my slightly over dramatized (mainly footing me a some well established old don) conversation with him and advice as I see it.

The age-old question echoes in his mind: What next? We sat down, beer in hand my hand over priced energy drink in his, and dived into the labyrinth of choices, particularly the dichotomy between a degree apprenticeship and the traditional university route.

“Why apprenticeships?” he asked, a curiosity tinged with uncertainty. Exploring the benefits became our starting point—a chance for free qualifications, hands-on professional experience, and the thrill of learning within the career he envisions.


“How different is it from a classroom?” His next question cut to the core. We talked about the apprenticeship’s unique virtue—unfolding practical skills in real-world scenarios. It’s not just about lectures and homework; it’s negotiating, writing formal emails, and dealing with clients—all skills essential in the professional landscape.

“What about student debt?” The financial concern loomed large. Here, we uncovered a pivotal advantage of apprenticeships: no student debt. The employer foots the tuition bill, a breath of fresh air compared to the financial burdens of traditional university routes.

“Are apprenticeships just for specific jobs?” he wondered. The landscape has evolved. Apprenticeships today span diverse industries, offering alternative routes to careers. No longer confined to labour jobs, they are a viable path to law, tech, nursing—you name it.

“What do employers think?” A pragmatic inquiry. We delved into how employers not only accept apprenticeships but often prefer them. Practical experience coupled with specialized qualifications—music to employers’ ears.

“What comes after?” he mused. A crossroads indeed. We explored the post-apprenticeship paths—employment or a higher-level apprenticeship. Staying with the same company often proves a smart move, a foot in the door to competitive industries.

“Are there downsides?” he cautiously asked. Yes, we acknowledged that apprenticeships aren’t a universal fit. Decisiveness is key, and sought-after opportunities can be competitive.

“What about social life and pay?” His concern about the shift in dynamics was palpable. Smaller cohorts, varied age groups, and modest initial pay—it’s a different rhythm. Adjusting to a new pattern of responsibility is part of the apprenticeship journey.


“How about holidays?” he questioned. A valid concern about the departure from traditional university breaks. Apprenticeships follow a job-oriented structure, with 20 days of paid holiday entitlement.

“How do I decide?” The million-dollar question. We explored the importance of careful consideration, aligning career goals with the focused nature of apprenticeships.

As the conversation unfolded, a broader question lingered—Are we, as a sector, doing enough to champion apprenticeships as a holistic path? We pondered, sipped our drinks, and contemplated whether a more cohesive narrative could bridge the information gap in schools and organizations. After all, this decision shapes not just individual futures but the trajectory of education and careers for generations to come.


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