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Engineering Apprenticeships – a guide


Are you bored with academic study? Don’t want to go to university? Do you like the idea of working with your hands to create or fix things? If so, an engineering apprenticeship could be right up your street! 

BY Annie Dove

The word ‘apprenticeship’ seems to be taboo with many people – parents in particular – who disregard apprenticeships because of the long-held belief that a gaining university degree is the only way to get a job and be successful. The Chief Executive of SEMTA, Sarah Sillars said that, ‘Apprentices are the achievers of this generation – they earn and learn – then embark on world-class careers.’ Apprenticeships are not a secondary option for those with lower grades. You earn and learn with major companies in the grown-up, working world.

Vocational education and academic education should be placed on an equal standing in the UK. This is what happens in Germany and their economy is the strongest in Europe so it can’t be a bad way of doing things and it should happen here, sooner rather than later.

The engineering sector also needs to entice women into the industry more successfully as the engineering sector is still dominated by men. The Guardian has found that under 9 per cent of the UK’s engineers are women. Both the Government and engineering firms are desperate to iron out this imbalance by trying to encourage more girls to take up sciences at A-level. Now is the time to be a female engineer, with competition so low.

Current opportunities for apprenticeships are endless. Zenith People and Northumberland College have just created a partnership to deliver an intense, two week pre-apprenticeship training programme. Successful applicants then go forward to interview for live apprenticeship vacancies from 35 employers including Hi-Q, Shield Engineering and Ralph Scott.

Higher Apprenticeships are considered by companies to be an equal qualification to a degree. If you go to university, you could come out with a good engineering degree from a top university, but also a bucket load of debt. Higher Apprenticeships in Engineering offer on and off-the-job training, a competitve salary and opportunities to work towards a graduate-level education, without having to pay for it. It’s a real alternative to university, but it can be extremely competitive to get a placement. If you are successful, how far you go is up to you and your ambitions. SEMTA has recently worked with JCB to create the UK’s first ever apprenticeship programme geared towards international business. This could be a substitute for Level 3 qualifications, aimed at 16 year olds, who from 2014 will have to stay in some form of education until the age of 18. This apprenticeship will provide young people interested in engineering with qualifications and work experience from a top global company, equal to academic study.

To find out more about Higher Apprenticeships, go to:

About Lynette Daly

Lynette is the publishing editor of Moving On magazine. Moving On is devoted to helping young people make good choices for their future – education, qualifications and careers. Moving On really wants to motivate you! Our articles cover a range of topics to inspire and give ideas. Our magazines are delivered free to all schools, colleges and sixth forms in England and is also available online.

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