A former A level student is urging young people to consider apprenticeships as way of realising their career ambitions after finding his own success through the hands-on training route.
Nissan apprentice, Stephen McCarron, 20, from Wallsend, has shown that despite widespread perceptions that apprenticeships are less valuable than a degree, they are in fact a great way to fast-track your way into a highly skilled job.
Stephen started a five-year apprenticeship in September last year after completing A levels at Burnside Business & Enterprise College and then deciding the academic route at university to become an engineer wasn’t for him.
He is now working his way through a course that is helping him to fine tune his skills in everything from electrical installation, electronics and circuits and mechanical work to welding and computer aided design (CAD). All while earning a wage and taking the opportunity to develop softer employability skills to help him make the move from education into the workplace.
Stephen, who is completing the course at Gateshead College’s Skills Academy for Automotive, Engineering, Manufacturing and Logistics at Team Valley in Gateshead, said: “I’ve always wanted to train as an engineer and after gaining good grades at A level, thought that university was the only option for me. I soon decided that the academic route was too focused on theory and that I’d like to work more on my practical skills.
“Taking up the apprenticeship is the best career move I could have made. I’ve progressed far quicker than I would have doing a degree and an added bonus is I’m earning a wage while doing it.”
Judith Doyle, principal and chief executive at Gateshead College added: “Moving on to university after studying A levels is not for everyone and some people are more suited to learning in the workplace rather than spending the majority of their time reading textbooks. That’s why it’s vital to provide young people with clear, impartial and valuable career advice to help them pick the right career path.
“While university can be a valuable experience for some, we want to put the message out there that there are some fantastic apprenticeship opportunities open to those who want to fulfil their career ambitions. It’s not just academic learning that can get you higher level qualifications or help you to secure a highly skilled, prestigious job. Apprenticeships allow you to earn a wage while getting that all important work experience under your belt as well as highly desirable qualifications.”