Apprenticeships are one of the best ways to gain skills and experience in a specific role. They provide hands-on learning at work alongside classroom instruction. One common misconception is that apprenticeships are solely for people who want to work in trades, such as carpentry or construction. While this may have been correct many years ago, nowadays apprenticeships are available in a whole variety of industries, from fashion to cyber security and beyond. Furthermore, they have become more popular over recent years as a way of addressing the skills gap that exists in the UK.
One of the main advantages of apprenticeships is how they bridge theoretical knowledge with practical work experience. Whereas a university degree tends to focus heavily on classroom learning and the theory behind a subject, apprenticeships concentrate more on hands-on learning. This allows learners to gain valuable experience in their chosen field from the get-go.
This blog will discuss the three main ways that apprenticeships can provide real-world experience: hands-on learning, mentorship, and networking.
1. Hands-On Learning
Hands-on learning is learning by doing. It puts the learner in the driving seat, allowing them to experience what it’s like to work in their chosen field from the beginning of their apprenticeship. This approach is especially beneficial for more practical professions. Apprentices receive guidance from experienced professionals throughout the entire process.
One example of hands-on learning through apprenticeships is in culinary arts. A culinary arts apprenticeship offers learners the chance to gain real-world experience in the kitchen. Apprentices learn from experienced, professional chefs allowing them to develop their skills from those who know best. Part of their apprenticeship involves working in a real restaurant, preparing dishes and serving customers under the guidance of experienced mentors. This gives them an idea of what it’s actually like to work as a chef, so there are no surprises down the line.
According to a recent UK Government Apprenticeship Evaluation, apprenticeships have been shown to have a positive impact on employment and the careers of successful apprentices. For instance, 91% of apprentices felt that their apprenticeship had prepared them well for what they wanted to do next. Additionally, 70% of current apprentices planned to continue working for the same employer once they completed their apprenticeship.
These statistics suggest that hands-on learning through apprenticeships can be a highly effective way for learners to gain practical experience and develop the skills necessary to succeed in their chosen field.
Another key component of apprenticeships is mentorship. Mentors are experienced professionals who are assigned to guide and support apprentices as they learn and develop job-specific skills. They provide continuous feedback and advice as apprentices navigate their way through the challenges of their chosen field of work.
Let’s look at an example of mentorship in the construction industry. A mentor would be a carefully selected construction worker with many years of experience. The majority of the skills necessary in this line of work can only be learnt through hands-on learning. So, mentors can impart their wisdom to apprentices, helping them develop their technical skills, as well as their soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving.
And that’s not all. Mentoring is a mutually beneficial role. As well as helping apprentices gain the skills necessary to succeed in their chosen field, mentors also get the chance to hone their skills whilst gaining experience in teaching and leadership.
Last but not least is networking. As the old saying goes, “it’s not what you know, but who you know”. And there is an element of truth to this. Networking gives apprentices the opportunity to build relationships with other industry professionals. This can open up many doors, including job opportunities, career advancement, and further learning. Unlike traditional classroom learning, apprenticeships provide learners with the opportunity to connect directly with professionals in their field. In doing so, they can build relationships that can help them succeed in their careers.
There are numerous forms of networking. Some of the most common ways include attending industry events or careers fairs, where apprentices can meet and interact with other experts in their chosen industry. Training programmes are another great way for apprentices to network while simultaneously developing their skills and knowledge. And networking doesn’t just benefit apprentices during their apprenticeship. Their network can provide ongoing support and guidance well into their careers.
Take the business and finance industry as an example. An accounting apprenticeship provides learners with hands-on experience in accounting practices and principles. At the same time, they have access to a network of professionals in the accounting field. By working alongside experienced accountants and finance professionals, apprentices can gain valuable insights and advice, as well as build relationships that can help them succeed in their future careers.
Practical experience and hands-on learning are increasingly important in today’s job market. Employers are looking for candidates who can demonstrate skills and experience in addition to academic qualifications. Apprenticeships are the answer, offering a combination of on-the-job and off-the-job training, all culminating in an official qualification.
So, what are you waiting for? Head over to our dedicated apprenticeship jobs board to find the latest apprenticeship opportunities in your area.
We’ve got plenty of help and advice for apprentices, including dedicated guides on the different types of apprenticeships, reasons to start one, how to apply for an apprenticeship, and much more.
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