Young people hear quite a bit about the values and potential of apprenticeships at school and college these days. This includes being at the receiving end of various campaigns to encourage them to consider STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and maths).
However, they may face one major hurdle when attracted to the apprenticeship route to qualifications and a career in engineering – the lingering misconceptions and concerns that some parents hold.
A tough career path?
This may be particularly true if your daughter announces that she is considering training to be an engineer. Though demand for female engineers is high, it could be that your first thought is that your cherub has chosen a tough path, and would be better served by pursuing an alternative career. In fact, the view still persists that apprenticeships in general are somehow ‘second class’ or for less able students.
One of the lingering myths for parents is that apprenticeships in the North West of England are still part and parcel for the region’s industrial past. They may even think this is not for their child, imagining hours spent watching others, and learning their craft with many months of basic grunt work.
However, nothing could be further from the truth. Nor is your son or daughter going to be ‘slave labour for peanuts’.
Do your research
Parents who still think that apprenticeships are for young people whose talents are more vocational than academic, could benefit from researching the training structure.
Parents with lingering concerns need to be aware that apprenticeship qualifications – and on-the-job experience – are part of training models developed by the UK’s major engineering employers.
These are the companies who know what they want from engineer training. As there is a gap in skilled staff in this sector, these employers are ready to prepare your son or daughter to boost the pool of talent they can draw from. This means engineering apprenticeships now achieve similar qualifications to university level, but clearly offer the extra incentive of working alongside colleagues and earning a salary (and freedom from student loans).
Apprenticeships are accelerated, real time training to get your son or daughter to an advanced level of learning as swiftly as possible.
So, if you are a parent wandering whether to endorse your child’s choice of an engineering apprenticeship – especially a girl – ask yourself how quickly you want your child to be integrated and a valued part of the workforce.