What is an Apprenticeship, and Should I Do One?


Have you ever wondered if there’s an alternate way to higher education? My name is Nina and I work for DANCOP as part of the administration team, and today I’m here to answer some questions about my apprenticeship journey!

What was your choice of industry for your apprenticeship?
My choice of industry for my apprenticeship was a close call between Business Administration, Hair Dressing and Hospitality. However, I soon realised the skills I possessed were most suited to Business Administration and I genuinely believed it could be an industry I could thrive in.

Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?
My path to choosing to do an apprenticeship was not easy and along the way I hit a few bumps in the road. When I left secondary school, it never even crossed my mind that an apprenticeship was an option for me; you were generally encouraged to do your A levels and go to university. I had dreamt of studying English and becoming a writer throughout my entire time at school. But when I started Sixth Form, I soon realised that it wasn’t for me. It was only when my older sisters discussed their higher education experiences with me that I realised an apprenticeship would be the right choice.

How did you find your apprenticeship and how did you get your placement?
Once I realised that I wanted to do an apprenticeship, I didn’t have many resources available or knowledge to know where to find the information I was looking for. I used a service called Connexions, that I remembered from school, to find a list of apprenticeship industries. I picked at random and decided to give Business Administration a chance.

Once I had applied for a couple of vacancies, I received a call from Prostart Training, a training provider, inviting me to an interview for an apprenticeship vacancy. Prostart were great and at the interview they presented me with an option where they offered young people aged 16-21 an opportunity for an apprenticeship placement within the NHS. This sounded like an amazing opportunity so I filled in an application and chose which potential locations would suit me. Within a couple of months, I received a week’s training at Prostart and began my placement in the NHS doing Business Administration in October 2009.

How much time did you spend in work and studying?
Unlike a college placement where you spend part of your time studying in college, mine was all work experience based. I spent 37.5 hours in an office, working full time. However, the organisation and team I worked for allowed me a flexible amount of time to gain beneficial work experience and time to study and complete my NVQ work. During this time, I also received regular visits from my Assessor at Prostart, who checked in and marked my work.

How long did it take to complete your apprenticeship?
The length of my apprenticeship was eighteen months. I finished my NVQ work a few months early but worked until the end of my contract.

What were your options after your apprenticeship?
The options available to you after your apprenticeship vary. Usually, it’s dependent on whether your employer has the funds available to keep you as an employee. I had already started looking at entry level roles in admin for the NHS before my contract ended, but my role became available as a full time Administration Assistant.

I was fortunate enough to be able to apply, be interviewed and successfully secure the role.

How did your apprenticeship help progress your career?
I genuinely believe that my apprenticeship is the reason I have been able to progress and advance in my career. It opened so many doors and opportunities for me. I was able to successfully work across four very different and amazing roles in the NHS. I went on to achieve my NVQ Level 3 in Business Administration not long after achieving my NVQ Level 2 and once I entered a customer service role, the NHS funded a further qualification, my BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Customer Service.

It was also due to my apprenticeship that after a successful ten-year career in the NHS, I made the difficult but right decision to start a career in higher education.

If you could go back and choose a different choice for higher education, would you?
No, I wouldn’t choose a different choice for higher education. I respect and value all options available to learners for higher education, but an apprenticeship was always the best option for me. I was able to learn, work and gain a qualification all at the same time. This is something that has helped me immensely in life and suited my learning style.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering doing an apprenticeship?
I would encourage learners to think over all their options for higher education. It’s important to think about the style of learning that suits you when thinking about what and how to study, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek out advice. If you’re eager to work and learn, then an apprenticeship might be a good option for you!

Although apprenticeships have changed a lot since the time I did mine, the opportunity and the qualification it gives to those suited to a more flexible learning style remains the same. I will always be very thankful for the experience, knowledge and qualifications my apprenticeship has blessed me with. I advance through my career, I aim to share my passion for apprenticeships and encourage others to take part in an apprenticeship.

Find an apprenticeship through Gov.UK