Why choose an apprenticeship over further education?

Why choose an apprenticeship over further education?

Now, you may be thinking from the title to this blog, what on earth has that got to do with health and wellbeing?

I’m often asked how I started my business and have I always worked as a massage therapist. I actually only trained as a massage therapist in 2008, my previous working life was quite different. I left school in the late 1970’s and at the time only a handful of students carried on with further education and even fewer carried on to University whereas in later years the pressure to carry on to University became the expected route for many.

At 16 years old I’d had enough of school and despite the pressure from teachers to stay on to do A Levels I decided to leave, and I got a job in a local authority. It was a lowly position and it wasn’t long before I was thinking ‘I can do more than this’. A few years later I took myself off to evening classes and did ‘O’ and ‘A’ Level Law and really enjoyed it. It was at this point that a local solicitor told me about the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) which is a route to gaining a legal qualification part time whilst working full time, so effectively a route along the lines of an apprenticeship.

I know over the years many different options to qualify through CILEX have been developed. At the time I started my studies you could do the first two years but after that you had to be in qualifying employment which meant being under the supervision of a solicitor so that motivated me to find a position with a law firm. I started applying after my first year and I was taken on by a firm, even though at that point I had no practical experience, but I got the position on the strength of having completed the first year of the course.

After that, I continued my studies and completed them partly by evening classes and partly by distance learning and ended up working for different law firms full time over a period of 16 years. I remember at my last firm being part of a meeting where the firm was pitching for work to a potential new client and everyone in the room had to say who they were and what was their experience. Having worked all those years, at the same time as studying, it soon became apparent to me that I had more years of practical experience of working in the law than anyone else in the room including the partner heading the team!

I know that I am now doing something completely different, but I am grateful to CILEX for giving me the opportunity to have had a successful career in law and for this reason I am a great supporter of apprenticeship schemes.

I know this is a particularly stressful time for school leavers, and the current situation isn’t helping, and so there will be a lot of anxiety out there for both students and their parents. But, there is always more than one route to making the most out your working life and being able to gain practical experience at the same time as learning your trade or profession is one of the best.