Before I even begin this blog post, I just want to put a disclaimer out there to say that obviously everyone experiences things differently and every sector works differently but this is just my opinion of my own personal experience doing an apprenticeship in the childcare sector.
1. Low pay
I think this is one of the most important things that you have to consider when choosing to do an apprenticeship, it was definitely a massive factor that I battled with when I was deciding. When I decided to move to Essex I applied for a million jobs, had a few interviews and was offered two jobs, one apprenticeship in a local nursery and one carer for a child with a disability in their home. Both options offered on the job training however one would give me a qualification which could be transferred into future jobs. It took me a while to decide what to do and I definitely tossed both options back and forth however since we were moving to my boyfriends mum’s house and she had agreed to let us live there for a reasonably low rent, I could make the choice I wanted to make regardless of the income. I decided on the apprenticeship option since, although I had just spent two years getting a level three qualification in health and social care, it would be great to get another qualification and the atmosphere of the nursery job just felt so much better than the other job.
2. You gain a qualification whilst doing your job
The great thing about an apprenticeship is that if you do your job which you’re being paid to do (plus a little more work that we will come to in a minute!) you’ll get a qualification after a year or two. That qualification can help you to get a new job, a new role or you can just bank it for when you need it. It’s a fairly good way to get your qualification especially if a college doesn’t motivate you, you have to go and do your work because it’s your job and it’s what you’re being paid to do!
3. Goodbye evenings and weekends
One of the really tough things about an apprenticeship is when you’re not working, your still working. Unless you’re lucky enough to get a day or two off during the week, you’re in my position where all of the time that I spent outside of work, I was still working! Evenings and weekends were prime time for getting coursework done and since I did a short course (a year long) I didn’t have much time to hang about. I have to say though, the coursework was a great excuse to get out of the social events which I couldn’t attend because I just didn’t have the money for them!
4. Real life experience
One thing that I found since I did a level 3 qualification in college and then one as an apprenticeship immediately after was that you get a very different experience in one than the other. In college I did a few placements and whilst it was great to experience the workplace, it is not real life experience. It’s sugar-coated without the responsibility and the stress that follows you home and the real-life tasks. In my work placement that I did in a nursery, I read some stories, played with the children, helped with a few activities and I went home. In my real job I was given key children who’s development depended on my work and involvement, I spent days changing soiled clothes, clearing up vomit, planning activities at home, writing observations on my lunch break and evenings awake to worry about specific children. Of course, there’s also the amazing elements of real-life experience, during work placements I never got to develop the most incredible bonds with children, watch them grow up and develop, build relationships with their families or feel the immense pride when all of your hard work with a child finally pays off!
5. What happens next?
I was extremely lucky in that once I had completed my apprenticeship there was a job on the table for me and I was able to continue working in my current nursery. If I’d gone to college to do my level 3 I wouldn’t have necessarily had a job at the end of it. Once you do an apprenticeship you not only gain a qualification but also the experience, the friendships, the references and the starting board for a whole career in the field that you have chosen. So far I have been given a pay rise, more responsibilities and I know that it’s just the start. With more experience, I can either use my qualification to pursue a higher role or I can use it to complete another qualification.
If you can get through the initial low pay and lack of social life, in my opinion, apprenticeships are an incredible option with amazing benefits. This is all coming from the perspective of someone who didn’t pursue a different route after college but I believe that I made the best choice for myself and I honestly wouldn’t have taken any other option if I was given the chance to do it all again.
What did you do after college? Would you change your route if you were given the chance?
Love, Alice x