Each year more than 18,000 apprenticeships are available to those working in the Armed Forces and the Civil Service. For many they offer a viable alternative to higher and further education. And, not only do they provide high quality accredited training in more than 300 specialist employment areas, they also allow students to work and get paid to learn.
There are opportunities to undertake apprenticeships in a variety of trades from engineering and construction, to hospitality and animal care – both in the armed forces and fast-track schemes on the civilian side.
More than 95% of new Armed Forces recruits enrol in an apprenticeship every year, with the majority completing their training within 2 years.
What makes these apprenticeships so attractive is the fact that while the quality of the technical training the apprentices receive is high, equal importance is placed on developing skills such as leadership, discipline and a pride in their chosen trade.
While working hard is an important element, sport and leisure activities are also highly encouraged, making MOD apprenticeships stand out from other schemes.
These apprenticeships form the basis of a commitment to developing careers and preparing people for exceptional second careers when the time comes to leave the military and build a life outside the service. Those who take part in the training come from a very wide range of background and experience.
Flight Sergeant Karen Pinnion, the training supervisor for the mechanical training flight at RAF Cosford said:
We get a wide variety of guys and girls on our course, not just teenagers as you might think, but people in their 20s and 30s. Some are very good academically; we get degree-qualified people coming through as technicians as well as people straight from school.
“The mix is good because it adds to learning when people from different generations train together. What sets our apprenticeship apart is that our students get to move around.
They get practical experience in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan, which means you get meaningful practical experience that you bring back to the classroom, and you get life experience too.
Watch the video to learn more from the instructors:
In January the RAF Apprenticeship Scheme was awarded top marks by Britain’s education standards watchdog Ofsted, which praised the way the scheme trains the airmen and airwomen of the future,
Senior Aircraftman Scott Grove, 24 from Glasgow said about his apprenticeship:
After my basic apprenticeship training, at the end of 2013 I went to Afghanistan and spent 3 months in Kandahar working on the Hercules transport aircraft – it was hard work, but pretty rewarding.
Being in a hard working day to day experience like that helps a lot when you come back to the classroom. The more you do with your squadron the easier it is because you’ve seen a lot and done a lot already. And it helps as part of our portfolio of evidence for our NVQs.
Watch this video to see apprentices talking about their experiences
Although apprentices have been around since the middle ages, the range of trades they teach has spread over the last century from the more traditional, such as construction, paper-making and printing, to encompass emerging sectors such as engineering and shipbuilding.
Apprenticeships today continue to reflect the emerging areas in the UK economy such as retail, business and information technology.
The most popular apprenticeship subject in 2010-11 was ‘customer service’.