Are you unsure about what to do after GCSEs or A levels? Have you considered an apprenticeship?

With results day approaching, many 16-18 year olds will be considering their options for the future. After completing GCSEs or A Levels, many students go on to study A levels or a degree, or go straight into employment. A lot of people believe these are their only options, but that is not the case.

If college or university does not appeal to you, if you want to gain qualifications and work experience, and earn money at the same time, or if you know what you want to do and want to begin your career progression, then an apprenticeship may be ideal for you.

Apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly popular choice. No matter what level of education you have achieved, whether you are finishing your GCSEs or A levels, or even a degree, there are now apprenticeships available to suit all ages and levels of ability, in a wide range of professions.

It is a common misconception that A levels are required to get a degree, whereas in actual fact, there are many ways to attain a degree. Qualifications from apprenticeships can be used to gain entry into university, and there are also now degree apprenticeships available.

Untitled design 94My name’s Katie Harrison, I’m 22 years old, and I’m currently an apprentice; studying a Level 3 Diploma and Certificate in Digital Marketing, whilst working as a Marketing Executive at Bradbury Group. As someone that has completed GCSEs and A levels, had a variety of jobs and work experience placements, and been to university, this is how and why I ended up doing an apprenticeship.

Throughout my time at school and college, everyone was expected to continue on to study A Levels after GCSEs, and a degree after A Levels, and there was little discussion of any other options. So I did what was expected of me, and went to university to study Business and Management after completing my A levels in maths and science subjects. It soon became clear to me that this wasn’t the right choice for me, and I left university after one year, with no idea what to do next.

The following year, I completed the Prince’s Trust Team Programme, volunteered, and had temporary jobs in business administration, marketing, and customer service. I enjoyed gaining work experience, and realised I wanted a career in marketing, but still wanted to develop my education. I looked for alternative routes into marketing other than university, and discovered apprenticeships. However, there were no vacancies in my area, so I started a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design, whilst working part time in retail.

Whilst completing this course, I found out about a marketing apprenticeship vacancy at Bradbury Group through college, instantly applied, and was successful. I left college, and started at Bradbury the following week.

During the last 18 months at Bradbury, I have designed brochures and leaflets, banners and promotional materials for exhibitions and events, created posters, specifications, presentations and spreadsheets, done market research, edited and updated websites and social media accounts, and taken and edited photographs. I’ve also attended several training workshops and seminars in marketing, and started a Level 2 apprenticeship in Business Improvement Techniques. Working at Bradbury has also helped in improving my confidence and developing my communication skills.

An apprenticeship allows me to gain practical work experience and skills, whilst also learning and gaining qualifications, which is ideal for me. I believe this is the best way to embark on a career, when possible, and provides a great foundation for progression.

Bradbury recognises my desire to develop my skills and knowledge, and to gain qualifications, and have provided me with the opportunity to progress onto a Level 4 apprenticeship after I complete my Level 3 qualifications this year.

Recognising the benefits of training and learning in the workplace, Bradbury is an ambassador of apprenticeships, working in partnership with North Lindsey CollgeHETA, and Derwentside College. Last year, Bradbury provided 50 existing employees with Level 2 apprenticeships, and 6 managers started Level 5 apprenticeships. Bradbury now currently has 80 employees completing Level 2 apprenticeships, 4 completing Level 3 apprenticeships, and 6 managers completing Level 5 apprenticeships. 

Some of our other apprentices have also written blogs about why they wanted to do apprenticeships, and on their experiences of being apprentices. The Gov website provides information on becoming an apprentice, types of apprenticeships and finding apprenticeships. If you’re still unsure on what you want to do, the UCAS website has a guide on post 16 options. Good luck on results day!

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