Are you thinking about what you want to do when you finish school in the summer? Are you weighing up your options and trying to decide between A-Levels, a technical subject such as Business, Engineering or Sport here at North Notts College, or perhaps the chance to earn while you learn on an apprenticeship sounds appealing?
They’re all good options.
In this blog, we’re taking a look at the difference between technical (full-time) college courses and apprenticeships. If you’re weighing up your options between A-Levels and a technical course you can find out more here.
What Are the Differences Between Full-time College and an Apprenticeship?
There are a few differences between a full-time technical course at college and an apprenticeship.
When you choose a full-time college course you will study your chosen subject full-time and achieve a qualification at the end of your programme. You will attend college on a full-time basis – which typically means a minimum of 12 hours of guided study per week.
An apprenticeship is a job with training; you will be employed for a minimum of 30 hours per week. You will earn a wage, have paid holidays and will work within a company. Alongside your day job you will receive off-the-job training, typically delivered at college either as day release (i.e. once per week) or on block release (attending for a week or more at a time).
With a full-time course, you will achieve a nationally-recognised qualification. Not all apprenticeships lead to a recognised qualification. However, you will gain the in-demand skills of your chosen industry to a standard set by employers within the sector, and achieve a nationally recognised apprenticeship.
Do Employers Value a Qualification or an Apprenticeship More?
This depends on the employer and what they are looking for.
Some employers like to take on an apprentice so that they can mould your skills to suit their business, which means you will gain the knowledge and skills they need. You will be immersed in their way of doing things from the very start of your career with them.
Other employers are looking for staff that already possess a qualification. They value the knowledge and technical skills that recognised qualifications can bring, and then teach you the behaviours and how they expect things to be done, once you’re in post.
Some employers are looking for apprentices who have completed some level of technical course before starting an apprenticeship, for example an electrician company may be more likely to take on a Level 3 Maintenance Technician/Electrical Installation apprentice if they have already completed a Level 2 Electrical Installation course at college.
At North Notts College we work closely with employers from the industries in which we teach. This ensures that what we teach matches the needs of each industry. We also work with a network of employers who offer our students work experience and longer-term industry placements. This ensures that you leave College equipped with the skills you’ll need to transition in to the workplace.
What If I Want to Go to University?
There’s nothing to stop you from progressing to university whichever route you choose.
Many of our Level 3 qualifications are equivalent to A-Levels and are worth UCAS points. Which means that you can apply to study at university.
Whether you can progress to university to study following an apprenticeship depends on the type of apprenticeship that you’ve completed. If you achieve a recognised Level 3 qualification as part of the apprenticeship you may be able to progress to university.
However, many universities, including University Centre Rotherham (UCR) now offer higher and degree apprenticeships. These apprenticeships, which are paid for by your employer, are available from Level 4 (first year of university) to Level 6 (full honours degree). They offer the chance to gain a university-level qualification alongside your day job, without racking up student debt.
You can find out more about the range of higher and degree apprenticeships available at UCR here.
Which One Is Best for Me?
That depends on you!
If you’re motivated to work and know what career you’d like to pursue, an apprenticeship could be a great place to start. You’ll earn a wage, you’ll learn from people working within the industry and 91% of apprentices continue in employment or progress to further study at the end of their apprenticeship.
But, following a full-time study route is also a good option. You will learn a range of skills and gain knowledge that employers are looking for. You can still gain meaningful work experience and get a feel for what working in your chosen industry will be like.
We always recommend not putting all of your eggs in one basket. If you’re applying for an apprenticeship, apply for a full-time course in the same subject area. Apprenticeships are competitive, with lots of people applying for the same vacancy, and achieving a qualification can help you stand out next time an apprenticeship is available.
I’m Still Not Sure; I Need More Information
Choosing your next step is hard. We’ve been there.
We’re here to help you make the decision that is right for you. We have a team of experts ready to help you talk through your options and what might suit you best.
If you’d like to see our current apprenticeship vacancies visit www.rnntraining.co.uk/vacancies
We work in partnership with RNN Training to deliver an exciting range of apprenticeships.