Are Apprenticeships Undervalued?

As it is national apprenticeship week this week I thought it was a perfect time to do a quick blog talking about my experiences as an apprentice and my views on if I think apprenticeships are undervalued.

To give a brief insight into myself firstly, I thought it may be best to talk about the route I took when leaving school and where it has taken me after just short of 10 years in the construction industry. When I left high school back in 2011, I decided to undertake an apprenticeship in carpentry and joinery. I undertook this 3 year apprenticeship at my local college Accrington and Rossendale College and at the same company that I am working for now F.Parkinson. Following the completion of my joinery apprenticeship, I continued to work on site as a joiner and at night undertook a new course also at Accrington and Rossendale College, which was an HNC in construction. This degree level qualification helped give me the opportunity to explore with F.Parkinson, the possibility of other professional roles I could move onto. Following a small time in the office at F.Parkinson, I found a love of estimating and was grateful to be given the opportunity to become a trainee estimator. F.Parkinson implemented a 3 year training plan and with the use of this training plain and great help from my line manager, department and regional office, I managed to complete my training plan and be promoted to an estimator last year. Finally this then led me to join G4CNW as a committee member.

I thought it was important to explain my career path first because it falls straight into my first point on maybe why apprenticeships are undervalued. Who knew that starting that joinery apprenticeship back when I left school would then lead me into undertaking higher level qualifications and push me into a professional role in the office working for the same company I started my apprenticeship with? I think this isn’t sold to people when apprenticeships are talked about, as I found out when I left school. I did quite well in my GCSE’S and a lot of my friends and people I went school with were like, you have done really well with your grades, why are you doing a joinery apprenticeship? Apprenticeships are 100% not a short term fix or in place just for people who don’t do well at school and can’t do a-levels. Apprenticeships give you a qualification, which you can then use to undertake degree level courses just like I did. Also a lot of the time the company you’re undertaking your apprenticeship with will help fund and give you time to complete the degree level qualifications, leading to you having less debt.

My next point on why I feel apprenticeships are maybe undervalued is the experience that an apprenticeship can give you which no other route, quite gives you the same experience. Don’t get me wrong apprenticeship aren’t all rosy and at times I struggled with working with people sometimes 3 to 4 times older than me and I would come home at times upset by the way some people treated me or finding it hard trying to fit in working with people so much older than me. But these experiences taught me to keep battling on and has 100% moulded me into a better person not only from a work perspective but also from a personal point of view and dealing with people from all walks of life. Apprenticeships give you the working experience which is massively important in this day and age. Many people come out from university and college with the same qualifications, but apprenticeships give you work and life experience which will not go unnoticed when you’re applying for jobs over people who just have a qualification.

One of my biggest achievements which has come about from me completing an apprenticeship, is how it has brought me down paths and given me the opportunity to take up roles such at one point being an apprentice ambassador, where I would attend schools and events and speak about apprenticeships and my experiences of being an apprentice, as well as at the moment being part of an great organisation in G4C, who are giving young and new professionals a voice. These two roles have been two of my biggest achievements because through the use of these roles and talking about apprenticeships, it has given me the opportunity to give information to young people on what an apprenticeship can give to their life’s and give useful information to them, which I felt I didn’t get when I was at school. This is so important and something I am so passionate about.

Above I have talked about all my personal positive opinions on apprenticeship, but don’t get me wrong apprenticeships are not for everyone. If you want to be a doctor for example then apprenticeships are probably not the best route and it would be more suited to going to university and also completing an apprenticeship may lead to you missing out on experiences such as attending university which is a massive experience for most young people. So please don’t think that I think apprenticeships are the answer for everyone because they are not. I think people should fully consider every route possible and don’t get caught up with having to follow what your friends are doing and should do what you want to do.

In the whole I feel apprenticeship are undervalued and a dying breed, which in my option is a great shame. Apprenticeships give you a great opportunity to earn money while learning, gain great work and life experience which is crucial to succeed in life these days. But the more important thing which I feel that apprenticeships give you is a great platform to achieve great things and create an amazing career for yourself just like I have.

From staring my working life as an apprentice, I have now successful gained practically skills, qualifications that are recognised worldwide, created amazing friendships and connections with work colleagues and people throughout the construction industry and pushed me into an amazing career working for a great company. How amazing is that all these achievements came about from an apprenticeship!??

Many thanks for reading and I hope this has given you an insight into apprenticeships. If you have any questions about apprenticeships or my experience in the construction industry. Please don’t hesitate to send me a message and make sure you pass my story on, to everyone thinking about undertaking an apprenticeship.

Don’t forget about G4CNW amazing awards happening in April. If you like to attend, sponsor or nominate anyone for any awards, please don’t hesitate to contact me. It is going to be a great night and we would love to see you there.

Jack Cook

Twitter – @jcook95
LinkedIn – Jack Cook