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Sky high ambition? Why an apprenticeship might be the right choice

Katie Storey, graduate and apprentice recruitment specialist at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff explains why an apprenticeship should never be seen as second best, but rather as the first step to get in and go far in a career.


How many of us have learned our trade solely from academic studies? As I sit in our Manchester office watching planes depart from the airport, I can’t help thinking that these pilots didn’t get great at flying just by reading a textbook. That’s not to say that academic learning isn’t necessary, our engineers just like these pilots need both academic learning and workplace training to become truly great at their profession.

With the introduction of the new Apprenticeship Levy by the Department for Education, which has been designed to better address skills shortage in many sectors, we have the opportunity as employers to take on board even more apprentices and provide more young people with fantastic and rewarding careers.

When I was 15 my dad was the most influential person in my life. He never told me what to do but rather discussed issues and topics openly with me to help me find my way. Not everyone has parental role models but for those who do, they are often a higher influence on their career choices. As a recruiter looking for apprentices, I know I will need to convince parents as well as students that apprenticeships provide young people with a “ladder of opportunity”. 

Back to my original pondering…Considering that most of us learn what we know not just from our teachers, but also from our colleagues and mentors in the workplace as well as from challenging ourselves on the job, it shouldn’t be too difficult to convince parents that they’re a good option. However, apprenticeships still suffer from misconceptions despite the long-term career opportunities they can bring in engineering, environment, property, and infrastructure among others.

There are opportunities for students to study toward fully recognised academic qualifications alongside learning in the workplace and the bonus of getting paid too. We need to be clear with parents and students that apprenticeships are not only for low-skilled trades, or that engineering means donning a hard hat and spending all day outside. Most of our engineering design technician apprentices spend their day in a (lovely) office environment designing complex high rise buildings or large rail stations using software like CAD (computer aided design). They can also visit sites and see their designs materialise, but the majority of their day is spent learning from our experts in the office.

Our apprentice roles are full time permanent positions with long term careers, professional development, and industry experts who really care about future talent for not only our business but for the whole of the UK. As an apprentice your career ambitions can be sky high!

If you have taken the time to read this please help spread the word. Like and share this post and tell anyone about the fantastic opportunities that an apprenticeship can offer. And if you’d like to start a career with us please visit: www.wsp-pb.co.uk/gofar