A viable alternative to A levels, apprenticeships are ideal for school leavers who prefer a hands-on, learn-on-the-job approach to their career, rather than learning in a traditional academic environment.

Just like A levels, the right apprenticeship can be the stepping stone towards a rewarding, lucrative career. Such was the case for Lydia Kelly from Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Lydia (17) left high school with ten GCSEs and started to attend a sixth form college. It became apparent that the academic style of learning at the college wasn't going to suit her, so she started looking at the other school leaver courses which were available. Finding out about apprenticeships, she decided to apply for one at Keele University.

The application included an all-day interview process, which included a variety of tasks, as well as assessment in core subjects. Lydia did really well at the interview, which was her first ever job interview, obtaining a Business Administration Apprenticeship.

Based in the Clinical Education Centre at Royal Stoke University Hospital, she started to study for a Level 2 Business Administration qualification, delivered by PM Training.

Apprenticeship advantages

Lydia said, "I really like my apprenticeship. I’m working ahead of my target and love the knowledge side and evidence-based learning. It’s much more me."

Her hard work has paid off when she managed to obtain a permanent, full-time job as a Course Administrator in the School of Nursing and Midwifery's Course Administration department at Keele University.

She felt that her apprenticeship training played a key role in her success in obtaining the post, providing her with additional confidence and the people skills needed to undertake the role.

"I really like my apprenticeship. I’m working ahead of my target and love the knowledge side and evidence-based learning. It’s much more me."

There are many advantages to apprenticeship training, not only is it evidence-based, but it's also based in the real world, in a real working environment.

For many people, the opportunity to learn as they work is a far more appealing option than continuing their education in a formal training environment.

Positive progression

Apprenticeships are a way of obtaining further qualifications at the same time as picking up vital transferable skills which are essential to success in the workplace.

Because apprenticeship learning is delivered independently of the placement setting, students are able to change placement (in Lydia's case, she moved into full-time employment) without any interruption to their studies.

This allows students to take advantage of job opportunities and career moves as they come up.

An apprenticeship doesn't just offer a chance to enjoy flexible, evidence-based learning, it can also lead to a salaried position.

Lydia was delighted to be earning and independent at 17, she said "I’m earning and learning. So much so that I managed to save up to take my mum on holiday to Paris. It was a great trip seeing the Eiffel Tower, and something I wouldn’t have been able to do had I stayed at sixth form."

With so many apprenticeship opportunities out there, there are plenty of choices for students who feel that they belong in the world of work rather than continuing to learn in academia.

If you're a school leaver who values the chance to work, earn and learn all at the same time, apprenticeship training could be a great option.

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