A recent study from Positive Outcomes has highlighted some of the benefits, but also a lot of the struggles of the current apprenticeship climate. SBT looks at the findings and speaks to M2 Computing apprentice, Tim who dispels some of the myths and stigmas…

A study by Positive Outcomes recently found a number of promising statistics when questioning 227 apprentices aged between 16 and 24 ahead of Apprenticeship Week 2016.
For example, the study found that almost four fifths of apprentices get full time employment at the end of their apprenticeship, with a further 92% believing their apprenticeship will give them an advantage when going for a job. As part of the wider study, 77% of respondents said that they got a full-time job after finishing their apprenticeship, whilst a further 4% were offered a part time position. 92% of respondents believed that their apprenticeship would give them an advantage when going for jobs against others who hadn’t undertaken apprenticeships.

However, there were some worrying findings revealed also. More than three fifths of apprentices didn’t know where to turn to for apprenticeship advice and 63% of respondents stated that they were previously unaware of where to find help, other than at school.
Additionally, 22% of respondents feared that an apprenticeship pigeonholed them on a career path for life and 88% felt ‘wages were too low’. Another 41% were concerned apprenticeships ‘aren’t seen as a proper job’, whilst 30% assumed they’d be ‘earning more after going to university’.

Kelly Ball, joint Managing Directing of Positive Outcomes, said: “Apprenticeships have long been associated with the stigma of poor wages, and it’s clear that stigma is still firmly in place. People need to realise though that in 2016, this simply isn’t the case. Many apprenticeship providers are keen to bring in the right talent at a young age in order to nurture their abilities.”

We decided to speak to an apprentice ourselves, to try to dispel some of this clearly widespread stigma associated with apprenticeships. Tim Oelkers undertook an apprenticeship with IT Support Service, M2 Computing, based just outside Crawley when he was 21 and looking for full-time work.

“I started at M2 in April 2014 alongside Jake Monckton. I was 21 and working part time and I wanted a full time position,” says Tim. “So, I started looking online and came across the QA Apprenticeships website, where I found the position at M2 Computing.” When asked about the accessibility of the apprenticeship scheme, Tim said: “It wasn’t difficult to find at all – I simply Googled what I wanted to find and it was there. From then, I had all the support I needed. I chose M2 because it looked like a good opportunity and it was the closest company offering apprenticeships to where I lived in West Sussex.”

He added, however: “Perhaps it might be harder for some types of apprenticeships than others. I believe the information is there if you look for it, but the access could be improved. School is the best place to get advice on these sorts of things. I would urge anyone thinking of an apprenticeship to get advice from a careers advisor through their school or do what I did.”

M2_Computing_TimWhen asked about the stigma surrounding apprenticeships, in terms of low wages and the possible pigeon-hole effect, Tim defiantly disagreed, saying: “I was paid a very healthy wage when I first started, and now that I have been promoted, I’m on an even better wage. I have developed skills, earned qualifications and done training just as in any other job. I have done training in anything from low-level IT and software skills to project management, so my options are actually pretty limitless. Apprenticeships really do set you up for life, whichever direction you wish to choose to go in. I work with small and large businesses, getting a fantastic exposure in a range of tasks, also allowing me to get to know a broad variety of clients from different companies and develop trusting relationships with them. It just so happens that I want to continue working at M2 for as long as possible, but if I did want to move on, there would be nothing stopping me – in the field of IT or otherwise.”

M2 Computing are now looking for new apprentices, to fill the same position as Tim. Tanya Haeffele, General Manager from M2 Computing comments “We are delighted with the success of the National Apprenticeship scheme. Tim and Jake have received some excellent personal feedback from our clients and we couldn’t be happier with their progress. The business has grown over the past two years creating further vacancies, so it makes sense to bring some new young talent on board in the same way.”

When asked why should someone consider M2 for an apprenticeship, Tim praised the company and its staff, saying: “Right from the start the staff here have been welcoming, kind and helpful, supporting me throughout the process, training me and allowing me to learn on the job. It couldn’t be a better working environment, and it’s just a brilliant way to learn. With an apprenticeship, and specifically mine, the expectations were set out from the beginning, and it was very much a case of learning at your own pace, taking it slow and developing as you go. You get as much out of it as you put in really. There was no ‘status’ attached to me, but I gained experience and qualifications whilst also being paid a good salary and eliminating the debt incurred through university fees. It’s a win-win situation.”
He concluded: “I wish to continue working my way up the ranks at M2 Computing, and hopefully one day get into project management. I would recommend to anyone to do an apprenticeship, and specifically to do an apprenticeship with M2.”

For further information on the new apprenticeships available at M2 Computing please call
01293 871971 or email enquiries@m2computing.co.uk