The apprenticeship

My son has never wanted to go to university and I totally respect that decision. University isn’t for everyone. Even for some ‘clever’ kids, it just isn’t right. My son is bright enough, but not so bright that he can sail through without putting the work in. And he really dislikes putting the work in. I think we all know that he would go to university and come out with nothing. We might as well just save ourselves the hassle and tip all of our money straight down the drain.

But there is an alternative to university. A very good alternative that suits my son down to the ground. An apprenticeship.

An apprenticeship isn’t just something people do when they leave school at 16, it’s something they can do after their A Levels, or even much later in life. An apprenticeship can lead to a degree, while also earning money AND getting training in a career. It’s really a no-brainer.

Because while my son hates school work, he loves actual work. He’s not afraid to graft and get his hands dirty. He likes working with people, both colleagues and customers. He has thrived at both of his part-time jobs. While most of his teenage colleagues tend to slack, he throws himself right in.

Just before Christmas, my son went to look round a local company that was offering apprenticeships. He thought he would probably apply. He thought there were apprenticeships where he does his part-time work. But there weren’t. He was definitely going to look up more apprenticeships online and apply for more. But apparently the company he went to visit had the only suitable apprenticeships for him in town. What about the next town? What about Bristol and Birmingham?

But the reality is that, compared to university places, there really is a tiny number of higher level apprenticeships available. The demand is high and in a lot of cases, they will ask for higher grades than some universities. So I really wanted my son to apply for as many as he could.

But my son has this problem with motivation. He just doesn’t get things done. And putting him under too much pressure to be researching and applying for apprenticeships, while also working for his A Levels might be too much.

So my son applied for ONE apprenticeship.

He could apply for more once he’d got his A Level results and more time to focus on it. Hopefully he could pick up a few extra hours with his part-time job once he’d left school. Maybe he would even go travelling for a few months?

He got an interview for his one apprenticeship. He needed to prepare a presentation.

I’m no expert, but the presentation looked pretty good.

He looked very smart for his interview, which was a full day, with lots of different aspects to it.

He came home and announced that there were only two vacancies. He’d thought there was four. And there were 16 at the interview. So that’s a one in eight chance.

But when he started to describe what he’d said and done, it sounded like he’d raised himself above one in eight. Maybe to one in four.

My son doesn’t come across particularly well on paper, but he is very engaging to speak to. Adults always love him, because he talks just like them. He knows about politics, current affairs and business. He has a way of getting on with people of all ages. Maybe he’d even got a one in two chance?

The company would let the candidates know by the end of the following week. But he got his call at the start of the following week.

My son has got the apprenticeship!

He applied for ONE job. (I applied for about 100 after I graduated. It took me two years to find a job.)

Initially we thought it was conditional, dependent on pretty good grades (which looked OK, following his mocks). But actually it’s unconditional. He will be starting his apprenticeship, regardless of his A Level grades, in the autumn.

I am very proud of my boy. Who needs all the skills in the world, when he just has the right skills to get the apprenticeship he wanted?

apprenticeship, apprentice, son, suit, briefcase, work

Photo by Andrea Natali on Unsplash


Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Oh this really is fantastic news! My son went on to do a higher level apprenticeship after his A-levels and it was the best decision he ever made. They paid for him to continue his studies and a year later was offered a proper job with them and has never looked back!

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    • That is so good to hear! This is exactly how I hope my son’s career will go to. I’m sure it will really suit him to go to work every day, and how nice will it be to avoid all of that student debt?!

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  2. This sounds exactly like my son. One option, one interview and he got the apprenticeship!

    I was quite naive about these but have since decided that they the job equivalent of Willy Wonka’s golden ticket (at least for parents!!). My son gets paid a salary that he can live on, gets very focused job related training and education, and after 3 years (including the best part of 12 month placement, split into 3 or 4 chunks) walks away with an honours degree and (of course, hopefully) a job. No debt and bags of training that is up to date and hands on. Winning all round !

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    • Very well done to your son! I agree, it’s a win-win all round. I heard about them a few years ago through my work and thought they sounded perfect for my son (and for us parents too!). I was so pleased when he decided it was the right choice for him – and even more pleased when he got the only one he’d applied for!

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  3. This sounds absolutely brilliant Sarah, and you must be so proud of him. He definitely sounds focused when it matters, and that is a huge achievement when there was so few places. Well done to him x

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    • Thanks very much, I’m really proud of him! I’m sure it’s going to work out well for him. He enjoys going to work and will love having his own money. No university debt is a huge added bonus!

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  4. Ohh! I didn’t know older children can do apprenticeships.
    Well done your son! Congrats to him! You must be very proud x

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    • Thanks very much, I’m really proud! Even people in their 50s can do apprenticeships! As he will be 18 and will have his A Levels this is a more advanced level than kids do at 16.

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  5. Well done him. Our nephews have all done apprenticeships – building, farming (although he didn’t get the grades he needed at GCSE so is at a different college to what he wanted) And the eldest got an engineering one at Dowe Egberts. He loves i, he earns good money for that age, and is learning. While I did a degree, I don’t like that they’ve become and tuition fees are horrendous. With an apprenticeship, by the end of their studies, they can still often come out with a degree. I’m definitely an advocate of aprenticeships now. They’re not like they were for kids who weren’t great at school, like they seemed when I was at school. They’re a real way of training and working.

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    • They certainly are! I’m really in favour of them. They’re definitely very different to they were in our day. My younger son wants to do medicine, so I suspect my eldest will be the only one to take this path.
      It’s good to hear how well your nephew is doing too.

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    • Thanks very much. I think it will be perfect for him. He enjoys actual work and will love having his own money.

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  6. This is a very interesting read because I’m thinking of what my kids will do in future. Apprenticeships have definitely become a lot more common and dare I say it, acceptable. They have ot becomemore and more common, what with most kids leaving Uni £90K in debt. Your boy did so well. Clearly it was the right choice for him. Wishing him every success.

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    • Thanks very much, it was definitely the right choice for him! Hopefully he will have a degree in about five years’ time.
      Apprenticeships have definitely changed since our day. Of course there are still the very practical ones for 16 year olds, but the higher level apprenticeships are becoming more popular as young people sensibly look to avoid the ridiculous debts from university.

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  7. This is amazing! You have every right to be proud. From what I’ve learnt of your son over the years, this sounds exactly right for him. What a relief to know he has something to go to in September. Hopefully that will take the pressure off his A Levels a bit too.

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    • Thanks very much. I’m so proud and it will suit him down to the ground! I’m pleased that even though he has got this to go to, he is still working hard for his A Levels too.

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  8. This was so refreshing to read Sarah. There really is an expectation to go to university these days and for so many people, it’s a waste of time and they end up racking up debts. My brother didn’t go either and he’s doing really well for himself now despite still being only 20, whilst his peers are getting further and further into debt and it’s debatable how many of them will actually use their degrees. Your son did incredibly well to get selected for an apprenticeship and it’s great to hear that they saw something in him that goes beyond A Level grades. I’m sure the apprenticeship will be the making of him. Best of luck and congratulations to him.

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    • Thanks very much. He did so well to get it and I’m sure it will be the making of him. That’s really good to hear about your brother. It sounds like it was just the right thing for him to do. x

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  9. I totally agree uni is not right for everyone and no guarantees of a job to pay off the debt they accrue getting there.
    he sounds like he has got his head screwed on right and will do himself proud.

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    • Thanks very much. He’s definitely done the right thing for him. It’s ridiculous how much debt young people get into at uni these days.

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