National Apprenticeship Week!

The Route I Never Planned to Take

Wow it’s Friday and I’m only just jumping on this. Yes, it is National Apprenticeship Week!

It is almost two years since I started my apprenticeship, and I’ve covered a lot of my experience of that in previous posts. But there’s one thing that I haven’t really mentioned:

I never wanted to do an apprenticeship.

No. It wasn’t part of my life plan back in high school. And definitely not on my mind as I was going through university – in fact, in university I didn’t think that I could do an apprenticeship.

Let me explain.

High school did dictate a lot of my career decisions. And I mean more in terms of stereotypes which we see ourselves faced with in high school. In my school the main one was that if you were considered smart then you went to sixth form. These sixth forms were an extra two years at your high school (though since moving to the UK I found out that over here they go to a sixth form college).

If you weren’t smart enough to go to sixth form that’s when you looked into college. Going to college meant doing BTECs or an apprenticeship. I have a vivid memory of someone starting a cooking apprenticeship and other students arguing with that tutor that this person was only doing an apprenticeship because he was stupid.

Because smart people went to sixth form, right? (spoiler: that’s wrong)

Personally I had wanted to go to college to do a BTEC in Business. I wanted to focus on one thing. I wanted to finish up with education and get an office job. But the abuse I got from ‘friends’ actually persuaded me to go to sixth form. At a different school to those people but I still ended up at sixth form to avoid being judged for going to college.

(While at sixth form, I was also pushed to apply to university when I actually wanted to go straight into the workplace so I was easily persuaded back then!)

So that decision was made.

Once I was at university and I had passed what I thought was the apprenticeship level, I could not get government funding to do an apprenticeship anyway. When I was in education the government would only fund each level of education at a time. I was surprised to hear that legislation changed (and thrilled!)

So if I could go back and speak to 16 year old Jade? I would be putting her straight.

But like they say, “the best time to start was yesterday, the second best time is today.”

We got there eventually.

And I would advise anyone else at high school (and other levels of education) to really look into your options. Sixth form and university might seem like the right choice but that’s not always true. Going another route does not reflect on your academic ability.

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