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Apprenticeships Explained

On Wednesday 27 November, the Careers Department held an Apprenticeship evening to highlight to Years 9 to 13 that university is not the only post-18 pathway available to them.

We invited a range of companies to attend and we are grateful to MHA Larkin Gowen, The AIM group, KPMG, PwC, BT and Willis Towers Watson for accepting our invitations.

The evening began with a presentation from The Aim Group, a charity that supports students who wish to apply for apprenticeships. During the evening, pupils and parents were able to find out more about the different types of apprenticeships available – including software engineering, auditing and business studies – as well as information about industry specifics. There was also the opportunity for a Q&A session with the speakers, with topics such as do they feel they are missing out on student life to the logistics of working away from home.

The industry speakers included:

  • BT – with a focus on the opportunities at Adastral Park which include research and innovation, software, TV and media, and cyber security and networks. The apprentice explained he is working towards a BSc (Hons) in Digital Technology and Solutions from the University of Exeter, spending a week every term in Exeter, with weekly web-based lectures, as well as working on major groundbreaking work for BT.
  • MHA Larkin Gowen – explaining about becoming a Chartered Accountant, which isn’t all about spreadsheets, and that ability in maths is not the main skill required. It was interesting to hear that there is no difference between the graduate’s route and the apprentice’s development and prospects in the future.
  • KPMG – much of what they had to say resonated with the other companies, with the overriding details being a free qualification, no debt, and a salary.

We were delighted to welcome back Old Ipswichians Amy Bolton, who now works for Willis Towers Watson, and Kaizad Forouhar, who works for PwC, to speak about their experiences since leaving Ipswich School.

Amy spoke with passion about the insurance sector and how she will shortly be qualified and will have the opportunity to study, fee-free, to convert her Level 4 qualification into a degree.  She explained that from the first day in the office she was given clients and found all her colleagues were there to give support and advice when needed. 

Kaizad and his PwC colleagues discussed the many opportunities available to both school leavers and graduates, and as with the other companies, there were a wide range of pathways to move into with equal chances of progression. The most striking comment came from Kaizad when he said that if he is unsure about anything, the first person he goes to is an apprentice, because they know the company inside out and have so much more experience than a graduate coming into the company. 

The clear message from the evening was that apprenticeships are not for everyone, as it is hard work to balance working full time and studying. However, you can still have the student experience, and you are treated as a valued employee from day one, with work experience being key to find the right sector to work in.

Andrew Calver, Deputy Head of Sixth Form and Head of Careers

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