Meet The Apprentices

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Written by A Ballantyne on in Lothian, Borders and Dumfries and Galloway

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The Benefits of Modern Apprenticeships

I guess I’m a pretty unconventional apprentice. I’m 22 and I’ve actually already been to university, defying the ‘traditional’ profile of apprentices who are often straight out of school, and then progressing from apprentice to undergraduate or into full time employment. However – for me personally – this is progression. University didn’t do it for me – I studied architecture for a couple of years but decided it wasn’t for me, so I branched out and completed a general Bachelor’s degree. Achieving a degree is obviously great, but what experience did I actually gain in the end? There was the four years of (often minimal) academic work under my belt, I did a few extracurricular activities and had jobs, but I didn’t quite feel ready for the real world, or prepared and experienced enough to enter into the media career path I want to follow.

Filming interviews at the Agents For Change Parliamentary Reception

I am not belittling university or insinuating it is a total waste of time; it’s perfect and necessary for some people and their ambitions, and I did have a great time and matured. However, not all people are suited to university and academia, and pushing young people towards this as if it’s the only option can be damaging to career prospects, self esteem and also the wider economy (the topic of the potential oversaturation of university graduates and industry skill gaps in our generation could take up a whole other blog…). I know I felt like a bit of a failure when I couldn’t power through my course like some other people, but I was much more comfortable and happy working my term time job as opposed to sitting in a library writing an essay on deconstructivist architecture.

There are so many benefits that come from apprenticeships, both to the employer and the employee. Young people are only too aware of the dire economic climate and the high unemployment rates that have come with it, because we’re losing out on entry level jobs to older, overqualified and more experienced people who are just desperate to stay employed. Where does that leave us? Apart from providing employment opportunities, apprenticeships also benefit the employer; training apprentices can be more cost effective than hiring skilled staff and their skills can be developed around your own business needs. You can invest in them and shape them, as well as provide them with experience and opportunities that will benefit them, and in return for this investment you will likely get a motivated, productive and loyal apprentice. It’s a win-win situation, really.

First time filming on the professional cameras – it’s a learning process! Forgot to white balance!

So, that’s where Young Scot has stepped in. After a year of job hunting, I hadn’t really considered an apprenticeship before and didn’t understand much about them. I’d looked at internships, but a lot of them appeared to be unpaid or barely paid at all, and I could end up becoming a lackey or making tea all day – what kind of work experience is that? (NB not all internships are like this, but they are out there – a lot of media job websites now refuse to post unpaid internships.) Yeah, I could put it on my CV but I was looking to get properly stuck into something, something to engage my increasingly latent brain! I stumbled across the Truth About Youth Creative Digital Modern Apprenticeship and after some research I concluded it sounded perfect. Where else could I learn on the job, receive invaluable practical experience and gain a recognised qualification, whilst getting paid and feel like I’m doing something for the greater good?

The Truth About Youth project aims to challenge the negative perceptions of young people in Scotland and how they are portrayed, particularly in the media. As young apprentices working on this project, we’re helping change the perceptions simply by being involved in the first place. We’re not lazy, unmotivated and unwilling to work. Quite the opposite, in fact! Young Scot has chosen to invest in us; it’s only polite to return the favour, isn’t it?

Of course, I’m not working hard out of obligation – I recognise what a fantastic opportunity this is, and I’m going to seize it. That’s part of what inspired me to get involved; it’s a fantastic project, and I think it’s really important – our generation are in a difficult position and it’s vital to instil confidence in them to ensure they realise their potential and the opportunities available to them in life.

So I’m working on a great project with a brilliant organisation, developing digital media skills, gaining knowledge and experience and being presented with so many opportunities – it’s going to be a busy year, and it will no doubt fly by! At the end of it, I know my prospects are going to be so much better and I’ll have more confidence in my skills and experience. I also hope that I’ll have made a lasting contribution to the project and helped change the negative perceptions about young people, at least a little bit!

I think more young people should embrace apprenticeships. Together with a college course, they’re an invaluable experience and opportunity, and a great route to employment – often a much better option than three years spent building up huge debt. On the other hand, my architectural knowledge actually helped me successfully complete a task at the interview day! It’s about finding what’s right for you, but if you haven’t considered an apprenticeship before, you seriously should.

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