Oct 2017 / Blog


Are you unsure that A Levels or university is the right next step for you? Are you sat in classes unable to concentrate, worrying how you will be able to complete the course you’ve chosen? Are you wondering whether you’ve made the right decision? It can be daunting thinking about your options beyond college/university, but an apprenticeship could be the answer if you want to get straight into employment. This article will tell you why it’s a path worth considering.

What is an apprenticeship?

An Apprenticeship is a work-based learning programme that enables you to learn on the job, achieve nationally-recognised qualifications, develop your skills, earn a wage and build a rewarding career.

Apprenticeships offer a hands-on alternative to the continual demands of essays, exams and studying that university entails. So what can you expect instead? There are no classrooms or homework; you learn working on the job with help and support with Essential Skills in English and Maths if needed. At university you can choose from a wide variety of degrees, but you can be an apprentice is almost any sector too. For example, did you know you can do an Apprenticeship in Digital Marketing or Business Administration? You might have thought that Apprenticeships are only for manual trades such as electricians and plumbers but this is not the case! A wealth of professions offer Apprenticeship opportunities: Accounting, Finance, Customer Service, Catering and Hospitality, and many more! ACT actually offer Apprenticeships in over 30 sectors so we most likely have something to appeal to you.

So what are the benefits of an Apprenticeship?

Earn whilst you learn

An Apprenticeship enables you to earn a wage whilst gaining hands-on experience in a specific sector, giving you the opportunity to apply what you are learning immediately to a work environment. It’s the best work experience you can get! On the other hand, most university courses are theory-based, only directing you towards the more practical world of work after graduation. The work experience and skills you gain with an apprenticeship will stand you in very good stead when job seeking – relevant experience and job-specific skills are what employers are looking for. Ninety percent of Apprentices stay in employment after finishing their apprenticeship.

Currently, the minimum Apprenticeship wage is £3.70/hour but lots of companies pay a higher wage than this. Our top apprenticeship salary was £25,000 a year!

No debt!

For many individuals, the prospect of racking up tens of thousands of pounds of debt can be a crucial factor when deciding whether to go to university or pursue alternative options like apprenticeships. However, Welsh government funding means that you, and your employer, don’t have to pay a penny for your Apprenticeship training. This means that the money you earn is yours, you’re still working towards a qualification, and you won’t be paying a student loan off for the next thirty years!

You can start at any time

You can start an apprenticeship at any time throughout the year – you don’t have to wait until September to start like college or university. This means that if you are currently in college and considering dropping out, you can get onto one of our training programmes or apply for any of our live Apprenticeship vacancies straightaway. Also, a standard university degree takes three years to complete, yet an apprenticeship can take as little as 12 months to accomplish.

 Meet Emily Smith-Jaynes

 Emily Smith-Jaynes

Emily Smith-Jaynes from Cardiff left college to pursue a career she loved. This is her story:

“I’ve been working at Land Rover now for just over a year. I was originally doing A Levels at sixth form but I didn’t like the academic side of things. I couldn’t sit through a lesson and take notes from a PowerPoint. I had to be doing something. Cars is something that I had an interest in so I thought I should be doing something that I know I enjoy.”

Her passion meant that she completed her traineeship in record time and is now an apprentice at Land Rover in Cardiff, working on high-end engines and vehicles.

“The motor vehicle Traineeship provided me with an opportunity to be on my feet doing something and learning and earning money at the same time. You can go to ACT without having any prior knowledge of the sector you’re interested in. They will build up your understanding and they are really supportive and they will help you find and progress onto an apprenticeship.”

How to get an apprenticeship

There are different routes into an Apprenticeship. If you currently have a job and want to develop your skills and work your way up the career ladder then great, we can work with you and your employer to help you complete an Apprenticeship. You could gain promotions in your job as a result.

On the other hand, if you think an apprenticeship could be the right next step and you’re not sure where to start, we can help. We have hundreds of Apprenticeship vacancies from top Welsh employers who are looking for bright young candidates like you. We have connections with over 700 employers and continue to help over 6500 young Welsh people achieve their career ambitions.

If you need more thinking time and want to try some different options, and are aged 16-18, then our Traineeship programme could be for you. A Traineeship is a fantastic pre-Apprenticeship programme that prepares you for the world of work. Our opportunities advisors in our 15 centres across South and Mid-Wales will be able to help you find out what career path you want to follow, and help you find a placement too. You will also be paid £30-50 a week plus travel expenses.

If you think an Apprenticeship or Traineeship could be the right move for you, what are you waiting for? Apply now