The Apprentices

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Between 2010 and 2012 the number of apprenticeship starters doubled, bringing last year's figure to a record high of over 500,000...

In the same two years the number of people applying for university has fallen, leaving a lot of room for thought about the career choices that people around my age have made, are making, and are going to make in the near future. My name is Lewis Manning and I'm one of this year's apprenticeship starters.

Only a few months ago I was undertaking my A-Level exams in English literature, geography and biology, with my heart set on a Geography degree at the University of Sheffield. I was one of those over-enthusiastic students that was in love with the subject, and I couldn't picture myself anywhere else besides the beautiful Sheffield campus with a Plate Tectonics textbook in my hand. People had, for many years, been asking me what it was I wanted to do with my degree - where I saw myself afterwards. "Research." was what I told them (although I was never quite sure if there were even any 'research' jobs). Yet as the summer began to end, and the day for moving loomed ever closer, I started to worry about just what I was going to say when an interviewer inevitably asked me: "Why Geography?". It was here that I really struggled to convince myself that I was making the right choice. If I couldn't have a geographical career then what were my chances of getting a regular job with such an unrelated degree?
In all honesty I was quite scared. I had never really thought more than three years ahead. When I finally did think about my options (with just a month or two left before university) I realised that I needed to do something that would get me a job. Better still, I considered the prospect of starting work immediately.

In the back of my mind I had always had a backup plan to go into the financial sector should my geography dreams never come to pass. Realistically, at eighteen years old I didn't think I offered much competition to those with job and life experience, and so I set my sights on a cashier job at a local bank. This is probably the point where I realised just how bad things were in relation to the economy and the resulting job prospects - there were no cashier jobs. Following advice from a few family members I then turned my attention to an apprenticeship. Hours upon hours I spent trawling though the '' website with little luck. When I eventually came across the job at Rathbones I almost went right past it. To tell the truth I had never even heard of the organisation, and so the advertisement didn't stand out. By this point I had realised that the majority of the apprenticeships on offer were for administration roles, which had never really been of interest to me. I'm sure you can imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered that there were six positions available for apprentices at a FTSE 250 company. As I read on I started to imagine myself going to work for an organisation listed on the London Stock Exchange, earning responsibility (and of course a wage!). It wasn't too long before I was filling in the application form and my career path was forever changed.

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