Why an apprenticeship is proving better than university for Joe - and his mum
With National Apprenticeship Week underway, our own HR apprentice – and his mum – are keen to share their enthusiasm about the benefits of the earning-while-learning programme.
Joe Rackham, who joined Midland Heart 18 months ago after completing an advanced BTEC in college, says he is “110 per cent sure” he made the right decision to do an apprenticeship rather than go to university.
Mum Heather, a former head teacher in the Midlands, endorses his decision, saying that for her son, an apprenticeship was a far better route than the traditional A-Levels and university degree course she herself followed more than 35 years ago.
“Whilst working in schools I actually liked the idea of apprenticeships, but at home I was a bit more traditionalist,” says Heather. “I had done the route of A-Levels and university and thought that’s the way you should go. But at school, I could see there were different types of students with different learning styles and that key skills might be better for them. Unfortunately, one system doesn’t suit all.”
She would like schools to do more to promote apprenticeships as a great alternative to university as well as the career opportunities they can provide. “For my grandchildren now, I wouldn’t say you have to do A-Levels and go to university because I can see the benefits Joe’s had,” she says.
Those benefits include seeing Joe grow in confidence since embarking on the apprenticeship and her fear that he might not enjoy the studying part of the role prove unfounded.
“He likes that there’s a purpose to his studying with everything based around what he’s doing. It’s focused and structured and he can really see the point,” she explains. “From a mother’s perspective I couldn’t be happier that he’s got this career. He’s focused and knows he wants to keep progressing to the next stages.”
Heather also believes her son’s transition into a career has been smoother than that experienced by her three daughters who all worked for a few years before going to university.
Joe has now almost completed level 3 of his apprenticeship and hopes to move on to level 5 to further improve his knowledge.
“I’ve definitely made the right choice for me,” he says.
“If I’d have gone to university, I would have only just finished my degree, still be at home annoying my parents and struggling to get a job in HR as I know work experience is key within the sector.
“But I’ve been able to buy my own house aged 21, run my own car and become completely independent and do anything I want - although buying my house was a shock to the bank balance!”