No Image Available

Cara Black

Read more from Cara Black

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Why our son picked an apprenticeship over university

mortar_broad

When Connor Black wanted to start an apprenticeship instead of go to university, his parents supported him all the way. Here, they tell the TZ community why.
Like a lot of teenagers, our son Connor was not sure what career path he wanted to take. Wanting to find out more about his options, Connor attended a school careers event when he was 13. He enjoyed cooking - partly inspired by a plethora of chefs on TV - and was thrilled to learn at the event that he could start a Young Apprenticeship in Professional Cookery.
At the time some of Connor's classmates and even some of our friends were surprised by his decision to take up the offer. We think what surprised some people was that we supported him 100%. We trusted Connor's judgment – but of course we carried out the due diligence. The organisation carrying out the apprenticeship training met with us on several occasions to brief us on what Connor's two year programme would include.
In September 2010, Connor began his apprenticeship at the Royal Hotel on the Isle of Wight under Head Chef Alan Staley's excellent tutelage. Connor, being very hands on, really enjoyed the apprenticeship. Two years into it, Connor was keen to find out how a Michelin star kitchen worked and wrote to chef Tom Kerridge. Kerridge invited Connor to 'The Hand & Flowers', a two-star Michelin gastro pub in Marlow and later offered to take on Connor as his apprentice.
 
"The time has come to break down some of the social misconceptions that dictate it's better to be an unemployed university graduate with substantial debts, than an employed, financially independent graduate apprentice. "
Fast forward to the present day and Connor, who is 16, is preparing to leave home in the next few weeks to start his new position and kick off Level 3 of the apprenticeship. Of course we are going to miss him immensely but we can't help but feel enormously proud of him. We only need to look at some of his friends and their parents who are today anxious about university debt and future job prospects and be thankful that Connor chose an apprenticeship and didn't blindly follow convention. 
Bearing in mind that youth unemployment is said to be at record levels and youngsters are leaving university burdened with sky high debt, we can't help but wonder why more parents don't encourage their children to pursue an apprenticeship. The time has come to break down some of the social misconceptions that dictate it's better to be an unemployed university graduate with substantial debts, than an employed, financially independent graduate apprentice. 
Taking A-Levels and going to university has, for some time, been seen as the norm. Politicians keen to be seen as encouraging upward social mobility, wasted no time promoting the virtues of graduate degrees and urging youngsters to go to university. Given some of the political rhetoric, it is easy to see why many parents felt that a university degree was the ticket to a 'guaranteed' job for their children. Everyone deserves an education, but what most politicians fail to say is that quality education does not have to involve going to university.
The term 'apprenticeship' has also been tarnished by short training programmes and disreputable training providers. Recently Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King commented that the word apprentice had been 'hijacked.' He felt a lot of things masqueraded as an 'apprenticeship' and did not represent what can be learnt as a skill over an extended period of time.
So if your child is considering an apprenticeship, speak to the training provider to find out what the programme includes. Check the training provider's Ofsted ratings and remember that effective apprenticeship programmes last for at least a year - never go for a programme that is less than one year. 
 
"How many university degrees can offer your child extensive on-the-job training or turn out work-ready youngsters suited to the requirements of industry?"
The sceptics will argue that apprentices get paid less than the minimum wage when they start, but surely being paid a small amount and learning to manage that money and acquiring new skills is better than being unemployed and in debt? And the apprenticeship provides the training to help you gain the skills needed for today's workplace – and for many, a job right at the end of the apprenticeship. How many university degrees can offer your child extensive on-the-job training or turn out work-ready youngsters suited to the requirements of industry?
The Government can and must do more to encourage youngsters to take up apprenticeships. It is ultimately the state's responsibility to nurture a portfolio of means to ensure that every youngster fulfils their potential – not encourage them to take up a university place to achieve targets and score cheap political points at the expense of people's lives.
Cara and Mark Black live on the Isle of Wight with their three children. Cara is a housewife and Mark runs a successful electrical contracting company. Connor Black enrolled for his apprenticeship via HTP Training, southern England’s top apprenticeship provider. Over 90% of apprentices who have completed their apprenticeships with HTP remain in employment

Newsletter

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.

 

Thank you!