For hundreds of thousands of parents, this year will see months of stress, sweaty palms, nervous, tetchy teenagers culminate in the summer as the next generation of young people finally sit their GCSE’s or A Level exams.

You will have agreed, no doubt, not to talk about exams until later in the year, it is too early to make big decisions. But by now, armed with a worldwide web of information, many young people will have made their choices, perhaps for the first time, as to what they want to do next.

As parents, you will play a crucial part in this decision-making process. So, this National Careers Week, it’s important you have the facts.

Many will have been given there final exam predictions, and of course, in the event, many over achieve, some don’t get what they wanted, or between now and the end of June, many simply change their mind about what they said they wanted to do after finishing school.

The most important thing to remember is to keep calm, they still have lots of choice.

If they are studying for ‘A’ levels your child may be planning to go to university, but there are alternative ways to continue their education. Historically, while University was considered the pinnacle of a child’s education, apprenticeships, were seen as a route into more manual jobs. However, times have changed and so have opinions on apprenticeships. So many young people and their employers are now realising the value of getting paid, gaining valuable work experience and developing transferable skills from doing an apprenticeship over the additional years spent in academia.

Obviously, for some roles such as, doctors, nurses and ecologists you will still need a degree, but even in these cases a practical apprenticeship can support a deferred HE application, and there are now more than 1,500 job roles supported by apprenticeships, so there’s really no limit to where your child can go next.

It may be worth knowing that in 2016/17, 92% of apprentices said their career prospects had improved as a result of completing an apprenticeship*. In 2017/18, there were 814,800 people participating in an apprenticeship in England. This included 375,800 apprenticeship starts and 276,200 apprenticeship achievements*. (*www.gov.uk)

What is an apprenticeship?

Put simply, an apprenticeship is a job with training. It combines paid work with continued learning, either in the workplace or at designated venues. Apprentices work alongside more experienced colleagues doing a real job while completing a role relevant programme that is recognised nationally. By the end of their apprenticeship, they will be able to demonstrate the skills, competences, knowledge and behaviours they need to succeed in their chosen career or move on with more transferrable skills.

How does it work?

Apprenticeship training can take between one and four years to complete. The length of the programme depends on the apprenticeship, its level, the industry and the skills the apprentice already has.

Training takes place predominantly in the workplace and the apprentice may also attend workshops, masterclasses, or dedicated facilities to complete specific training.

Apprenticeship Levels

There are four different levels of apprenticeship:

Intermediate – Level 2: Equivalent to five good GCSE passes

Advanced – Level 3: Equivalent to two A Level passes

Higher – Level 4/5: Equivalent to a Foundation Degree

Degree – Level 6/7: Comparable to a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree

Even though they may have completed A levels, (Level 3), your child may have to start on a Level 2 apprenticeship programme. This is because they are unlikely to have gained or mastered all the technical competencies required to progress beyond this level. But don’t worry, this can be the start of a career pathway supported by continuous learning and development.

Apprenticeships and University

The relaxation of eligibility rules around prior learning means school leavers don’t have to choose between apprenticeships and university as many now have the ability to do an apprenticeship either before or after a university degree. Apprenticeships can attract UCAS points and many graduates are choosing apprenticeships to improve their practical skills. Listen/read David’s Story (Expo-e)

What to do next…

Searching for an apprenticeship

Choosing a career can be a daunting prospect for any school leaver. With more than 450 apprenticeships supporting 1,500 or so job roles, a school leaver can be spoilt for choice when deciding which apprenticeship to do. Help them make the right choice by understanding where they think their future lies.

Apprenticeships are generally categorised by industry, job role and level. Find which ones may appeal by identifying the industry they would like to work in, the subjects they enjoy at school or the hobbies and interests they would like to explore further to simplify their selection.

Registering an interest

When a young person is ready to apply for an apprenticeship, they will need to do so in the same way as any other job. They will have to register an interest and submit an application in the form of a CV or by filling out an application form, then attend an interview.

The Government’s ‘Find an Apprenticeship portal’ (www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship) is a great way to search for apprenticeships by sector and by location. School leavers can register their details at any time to be informed of suitable jobs.

Alternatively, Remit Group, like most training providers will post vacancies on their web sites and other popular jobs boards.

Competition for apprenticeships can be strong, so candidates will need to show that they are keen, willing to learn and are determined to progress.