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Could an apprenticeship be the gateway to your future?

At the start of National Apprenticeship Week, we are celebrating current and past apprenticeships at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.

Apprenticeships can provide accessible, inclusive and life changing career and skills development opportunities at any point in our working life. The invaluable combination of gaining work experience and an accredited qualification benefits both the apprentice and apprenticeship employer.

Often there are many myths and misconceptions surrounding apprenticeships, so we have spoken to four of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s past and present apprentices to hear first-hand about their experiences. You may be surprised by some of their answers and inspired to explore the possibility of an apprenticeship to start, develop or change your future career path.

What inspired you to do an apprenticeship?

Emily completed a Level 3 Social Media Apprenticeship at Basingstoke College of Technology before studying for a Degree Apprenticeship in Digital Marketing. She said: “When I was at college, I knew that I didn’t want to go to university so I searched for a different option and an apprenticeship seemed like the best fit for me. The workplace experience looked to be a great benefit and I loved the idea of being able to learn, earn and gain a qualification at the same time!”

Is there an age limit to apprenticeships?

Toby, who went to QMC before studying for a Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship in Project Management tells us: “No, not in my opinion. There aren’t many alternative schemes that offer development with practical application. I was 19 or 20 when I joined Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council. One of the key differences for me is that with an apprenticeship, although you are not guaranteed a permanent position after the apprenticeship, you’ve had valuable experience in a work environment.”

Can you begin an apprenticeship after starting your family and what benefits has it given you in that regard?

We asked Beth, who joined Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council last year as Arts and Events Apprentice, this question and she said: “Yes, absolutely! Starting an apprenticeship after having a family is definitely possible.

“The flexibility of the apprenticeship has been crucial for me as a mum of three. Being able to balance work, family commitments, and learning has made the transition back into the workforce smoother. It has allowed me to gradually ease back into full-time work while still being present for my five year old twins and my three year old. Plus, it’s given me a sense of accomplishment and independence in a field that I’m passionate about, which is essential for personal growth! Financially the apprenticeship has been beneficial too. It’s been rewarding to contribute to my family financially while continuing to develop my skills. Universal Credit has been a great support and provides top-ups to my earnings while I’m studying, meaning I haven’t had to compromise on childcare or lifestyle.”

There is a misconception that apprenticeships are only for trade and construction. What would you say to that?

Toby explained: “Coming from a family which has a number of trades, this is a big misconception. I would say have a look online as most industries will offer some form of apprenticeship or development scheme. Personally, I am seeing a shift of focus from people having a degree against actual workplace experience, something an apprenticeship can offer both of.”

What does doing an apprenticeship involve?

Wondering what doing an apprenticeship involves? We posed this question to Owen who recently finished an apprenticeship as a Regulatory Compliance Officer. The course itself was all virtual.  Owen explained: “I worked alongside experienced officers in both the licensing and environmental health teams observing inspections and compliance-based activities. Towards the end of my apprenticeship, I was able to independently carry out and action inspections including my own caseload of complaints. This was all alongside my Regulatory Compliance Officer coursework/course.”

Do apprenticeships only undertake menial or administrative tasks?

Beth myth busts this one for us! “No! One of the best things about the apprenticeship has been the practical nature of the learning experience", she said.

"Yes, we do undertake some administrative tasks, it is part of the nature of events, but no two days are the same! I’ve had the opportunity to work four events in the three months I’ve been with the council and the work leading up to these events has been hands-on and fun. I can apply the skills I acquire directly to my work - this has been really helpful in events management where I’ve found real-world experience to be invaluable."

What can you gain from an apprenticeship?

We asked Owen to fill us in on this one. He said: “I not only gained a Level 4 qualification in Regulatory Compliance but I also developed as a person including building my interpersonal skills and also developing key knowledge of the area I work in currently. I have also promoted the support for neurodiverse colleagues. “

How can an apprenticeship shape your career?

Toby told us: “It’s the basis of my career. I haven’t been anywhere else outside of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and I love working here. When I first started, I was worried that I would have to go down one route but I now realise that this is a career path where I can be flexible. This provides me opportunities to work in many different industries. In essence, it’s the most important thing I have done career wise.” 

Emily added: “My apprenticeship has transformed my career for the better. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my career when I was a teenager but since completing my Level 3 in Social Media and achieving a First Class Honours Degree in Digital Marketing, I have now been able to apply my knowledge and skills at a new job in the marketing industry - which I absolutely love!”

Feeling inspired?

If the above has left you inspired to explore more you aren’t alone. During the 2021/22 academic year, 2560 apprentices enrolled in Basingstoke and Deane. Many apprenticeship positions are advertised by organisations much like any other role they have vacant but you can also find an apprenticeship on the government website. We did a quick search and found local apprenticeships as a chef, a travel consultant, a dental nurse, business administration and a civil engineering degree apprentice.

Our thanks to the Basingstoke and Deane Economic Development team and the apprentices featured for speaking with us.

February 2024

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