Ahead of GCSE and A-Level results days, a leading group of engineering apprentices is urging young people to be calm and consider the full range of options – whatever their results.
According to the latest research by the Industry Apprentice Council, 98% of engineering apprentices are happy with their career choice – and this finding cuts across apprentices at all levels, from Level 2 (intermediate level) to Level 6 (degree level).
Millie Coombes, IAC member and a rail telecoms design engineer at Atkins, said:
"Since starting my apprenticeship, I have never looked back – it was definitely the right option for me.
"I really don't think I've missed out by not going to university. I have had the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects and absolutely love what I do. I started on a decent wage and in four years I hope to have enough to put down the deposit for a house.
"Whatever results you're expecting to get, there's bound to be an apprenticeship out there which will suit you. If you don't want to be stuck behind a desk all day, there is an alternative – but don't just take that from me, nearly all of our survey respondents this year said they were happy they'd chosen to do an apprenticeship."
The Industry Apprentice Council (IAC) was set up by and for apprentices to give them a greater collective voice.
The group is supported by Semta, the national engineering skills body.
Semta CEO Ann Watson said:
"There will be many young people out there who still won't be sure what they'd like to do next and a recent poll by the Sutton Trust shows that an increasing number are considering an alternative to higher education.
"For those who are creative, who are problem solvers and who want to tackle our society's biggest challenges, an engineering career could be the perfect fit."
The IAC's report shows that just 21% of engineering apprentices were encouraged to take up their apprenticeships at school or college.
The group has highlighted a 'perception gap' as the cause of this, with many educators not understanding what apprenticeships offer and how they could benefit the young people they work with.
But Millie pointed out:
"You can do an engineering apprenticeship up to master's degree level these days – whatever the perceptions young people may have picked up, it's not a second class option but a tried and tested route into a sector where your skills are in demand and will be highly valued."
This 'perception gap' has been fuelled by poor-quality careers advice, with only 22% of apprentices who fed into the IAC's research being given good quality advice.
The research shows that more apprentices found out about their apprenticeships through their own initiative (50%) and online research (48%) than through any other method, with careers advisers (8%) and teachers (9%) bottom of the list.
For more information about careers in engineering go to semta.org.uk/careers.