“You will get the right skills with an apprenticeship!”
Those were my mother’s words when, at the age of 18, I came home with a two-year contract in my pocket for an apprenticeship at a local bank. I’d decided not to go to college right away, because I wanted to get some work experience and start earning some money. Even though I eventually did get my university degree, I still look back on that decision as one of the best career moves I ever made.
Young people weighing their career options ought to consider making the same choice. ILO estimates put the number of unemployed young people at over 74.5 million worldwide. Many of them are college graduates who cannot find work even despite their years of study.
If you’re a young person trying to pick a career path, here are five reasons why an apprenticeship might be right for you:
1. You will learn valuable job skills
There’s no substitute for learning on the job and that’s what you do with an apprenticeship. A good programme should provide workplace training together with other skills like language-learning, computer literacy, entrepreneurship and technical math. That will involve some classroom hours, but you’ll still spend most of your time at the workplace, “learning by doing.” All of the skills you’ll take away will help you get a job in your field, whether you’re a car mechanic, IT specialist, bank clerk, hairdresser, electrician, mason, etc.
2. You will earn a salary
As an apprentice, you will sign an employment contract for a specific time with an employer, which can be up to four years depending on the kind of programme. Your salary will usually go up from one year to the next as you learn new and more valuable skills. So, rather than paying tuition to learn future job skills, you will earn while you learn.
3. You will gain independence
You may think of an apprenticeship as getting your hands dirty at the expense of a traditional education, but consider this: in countries like Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland and the Netherlands, apprenticeship programmes are quite prestigious. It’s easy to see why: apprentices gain their independence earlier than their peers while learning skills that help them keep it.
4. You will jump-start your career
How many job applications have you completed and how frustrating was it when you were rejected? How many internships have you done and how many times were you not paid for your hard work? Apprentices, by contrast, start their careers when they’re as young as 17 years old. University graduates hunting for jobs in their twenties will envy the paid work experience and retirement benefits that you will have accumulated in the meantime.
“Rather than paying tuition to learn future job skills, you will earn while you learn.”
5. You will open doors
Whatever you decide to do in life, an apprenticeship will open the door to the world of work. You can stick with what you’ve learnt and pursue a future in carpentry, IT services or some other technical field. Or you can go to university and top up your work skills with an advanced degree in architecture, software engineering or city planning. Either way, you won’t regret those valuable job skills, which will serve you for the rest of your life.
Still not convinced? Hear from Benjamin Poredo, a former apprentice from Austria, who went on to become an engineer.