I value apprenticeships. Here’s why you should too.

Jade Ling

As a result of the pandemic and cancelled exams, many young people are considering other options as alternatives to university. To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, Jade Ling discusses the opportunities that her apprenticeship unlocked.


Schools like to believe that after you leave their doors for good, you’re prepared for the ‘real world’. After all, you have found the value of ‘x’, studied the star-crossed lovers and taken enough exams to last a lifetime. But to me, the idea that school teaches you everything, is absurd and I would argue that it is wholly untrue.

My apprenticeship not only provided me a stepping stone into a career I love, it taught me how to be confident in my ability, how to adapt and most importantly, that it’s ok to make mistakes and learn from them.

My course was 18 months long and during that time, I was part of a royal visit, managed the communications for elections and helped put a tiny town on the map in the Highstreet of the Year Awards. If you had told me when I was at school, that I would go on to do all of those things, I probably would’ve laughed you out of the room.

In year 10 and 11, teachers talk about two main things; the importance of studying for your exams and making sure your a-level applications are in.

Other than what I saw on the news, I didn’t know anything about apprenticeships and let’s be honest, they can get a bad name in the press. I knew that after being stuck in a classroom for 11 years, the last thing I wanted to do was sign up to do it again.

I have learnt that classroom or not, there are some things that learning just can’t prepare you for. You think you’re ready to take on the world but when the world comes knocking with a global pandemic, you’re forced to adapt and learn as you go and my ability to do this, is something I credit my apprenticeship for.

I learnt how to balance work for my company and assignments and it has stood me well for the challenges we have all faced this past year. 

In my eyes, learning as you go is the best way forward. Whether that’s professional or personal. It’s how I am navigating mortgages and all of those things you don’t realise come along with adulthood when you’re dreaming of growing up. But it’s also how I have approached my career.

Would I have learnt a lot being sat in a lecture hall for three years? Yes, I would have. But would I have picked up the wealth of skills that I have now thanks to my apprenticeship? I am pretty confident when I say that I wouldn’t have.

Sure, I would have learnt the syllabus, but, would I be confident to sell stories into the press? Or be part of the team running an election? Absolutely not.

Many people see apprenticeships as the ‘easy way out’ or for people who aren’t as academically skilled and to those who think this, I urge you to do some research and take a look at some of the success stories of people who decided university was not for them.

Because, when you surround yourself with a group of experts every day for a year and a half, you’re learning even if you don’t realise. And that, is incredibly valuable.

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