“Aren’t apprenticeships for learning how to be a mechanic or plumber?” is a phrase I’ve heard over and over during my time spent as a Digital Marketing Apprentice.
As of recent, the debate of university or no university has become more and more prevalent. Do you need a degree to learn a skill or to get a ‘good’ job? I would say yes, but no.
Going to state school in a borough of London with one of the highest rates of poverty has allowed me to understand that people have different ways of learning, and I don’t think this is something that is easy to acknowledge in a class of 35 needy students.
Personally, I’ve never seen myself attending lectures and reading from textbooks. I’ve never understood why learning about an industry from someone who’s job is to teach is seen as a higher quality of education then learning on-the-job from experts in their field. Especially in a field like social media, where the rapidly evolving landscape means that a syllabus is instantly out-of-date by the time it has been written and taught.
So, why is the population of university students still growing? Why do 37.9% of all 18-year-olds in the UK go to university? I think its obvious. No one knows apprenticeships exist. Or that there is even an option to continue education outside of university. This is where I think schools have a big part to play. I think it’s important for a school to acknowledge how students learn and that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all model that works.
This is all why I feel so fortunate to have found Pip & Nut and to have become their first of many Apprentices. When searching for an apprenticeship role the vacancy market for apprenticeships was flooded with massive corporations offering roles. Which makes sense, managing an apprentice is so much more resource-intensive so its not always an option for a smaller company who relies on their small team to be as efficient as possible. But I think an apprenticeship in a small start-up is so much more valuable. During my time at Pip & Nut I’ve been able to really see how the company operates in all aspects, whereas I don’t think I would have had the same visibility in a company with 100+ employees. In a smaller company, you can see the impact of your work which I don’t think is as possible in an established company but is so important.
For people who may not know, an apprenticeship is essentially where someone works for a skilled person to learn that person’s skills and gets a qualification from it. I’ve found my time as an apprentice working beneath Pip & Nut’s Senior Brand Manager to be infinitely insightful. I’ve learnt more than I could have imagined and when speaking to my peers who chose university, I know I made the right decision. I‘ve found that university graduates often lack in-industry experience and an understanding of the real world application of what they have learnt.
So, I believe university is a great option for further education but is over prescribed. I think university is great for someone who knows what they want to do and learns best in an essay and exam environment. I don’t think university is great for someone who is going to university to follow the motion and because they’ve been told it’s the only way to exceed in a career. The apprenticeship route should be chosen by people who are practical learners and may not have university as an option. So, theoretically no, you don’t need a degree to learn a skill or get a ‘good’ job. But I think alternatives are still not fully acknowledged by schools, governments and employers which makes it harder to learn a skill or get a ‘good’ job in alternative education. This is where companies like Pip & Nut can make a massive impact in the way people learn. Creating apprenticeship roles makes important progress in creating a more diverse workplace and making education more accessible.
p.s. Pip & Nut is hiring for a Customer Experience Apprentice, now!