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Vocational Training – A Route to Increased Financial Security

In the past, most people left school at sixteen and learned as they earned. Only those who sought a profession followed the path of higher education towards degree level and beyond. As more and more graduates have flooded the job market in recent years, employers feel a little cheated by graduates’ lack of practical training.

The increase in the amount of working mothers and workers of retirement age has made it more difficult for students to secure part-time employment which provides valuable work experience.

Recently, many teenagers have been thinking twice about seeking higher education with its oppressive student loans and its diminishing job prospects. They are looking at other options such as vocational courses of study, apprenticeships and part time study alongside full-time work.

Job security is a thing of the past. Each and every person in employment needs to find ways to make that employment more secure. Making ourselves more valuable to our employers achieves this aim, increasing the likelihood of a pay rise and, possibly, promotion.

One of the less obvious, but nevertheless successful, routes to this goal is to increase the number and scope of our job-related qualifications. Finding time to study to gain qualifications can be tricky when already in full-time employment but the rewards can make this worthwhile. An apprenticeship provides the opportunity to earn, learn and attain a nationally recognised qualification. Securing a qualification through an apprenticeship may be the best option because much of the qualification is based on the experience we are already acquiring whilst simply doing the job. Although apprenticeships are available for all ages, they are most relevant to the recent school leaver.

Normally an apprentice will spend 1 – 2 days every fortnight at a specialist learning centre with the remainder of the time at the place of employment. Typically the apprenticeship will last from 1 – 4 years and the salary can be low during this period, perhaps even as low as just under £3 per hour although most earn much more than this. However, evidence suggests that securing a qualification through an apprenticeship will earn the individual an average of an additional £100,000 over his or her lifetime and many apprentices are offered permanent employment with their apprentice sponsor upon completion of their apprenticeship.

There are 3 levels of apprenticeship in England. Intermediate (equivalent to 5 GCSE passes), Advanced (equivalent to 2 A level passes) and Higher (which leads to NVQ Level 4 or above or a Foundation Degree). Successfully completing the apprenticeship will lead to National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) at Levels 2 to 5, a technical certificate such as a BTEC or City & Guilds Progression Award, or a knowledge based qualification such as a Higher National Certificate (HNC), a Higher National Diploma (HND) or a Foundation Degree. City & Guilds offer the widest range of apprenticeships in the UK along with many other vocational learning opportunities.

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