Young people still reeling from exam uncertainty should not rule out apprenticeships, says a young high-flyer from a major communications firm.
Bethany Preston is an operational support systems engineer for communications infrastructure specialist Arqiva, whose business includes digital provision for Swindon.
She said: "There are many misconceptions around what it takes to succeed beyond secondary school – while university might be the perfect path for some, I hope my experience demonstrates and encourages today’s leavers to explore other avenues just as rewarding.
“Apprenticeships give practical training from the start: I could get stuck in straight away.
"As a student you’re not guaranteed any on-the-job training, but as an Arqiva apprentice I could develop and hone my skills as I worked.
"For me, building a foundation of technical and functional knowledge of broadcast set me up for success: now my role contributes to projects on which millions of TV viewers depend.
"I’m proud to see the results of my team’s work on a daily basis!”
Bethany added that people in her organisation could start apprenticeships at 16, and her own involved trying a number of disciplines rather than being obliged to specialise too early.
This, she explained, gave her a solid understanding of how the various departments worked.
Bethany said: “Enrolling in an apprenticeship doesn’t mean missing out on gaining valuable qualifications. In fact, at Arqiva I achieved my foundation degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering alongside my training.
"Even better, I didn’t have to wait until I was qualified to start earning. There’s a lot of scepticism around students choosing vocational roles, despite it being a more cost-effective step towards full-time employment.
"These negative perceptions are continuing to damage uptake but in these uncertain times a more direct route to employment could be the right choice for many.
“It’s no secret that UK engineering is suffering from a serious skill shortage as many in the workforce retire, made worse by dwindling numbers of young people choosing this career path.
"By 2025 this country needs 1.8 million new engineers, meaning young people who choose an engineering apprenticeship will be in high demand from employers.
“I’d urge pupils debating which path to pick to consider an apprenticeship.
"The opportunities I’ve had at Arqiva have been endless, because the programme accommodated my drive, passion and gave me the confidence to pursue my goals.”
Further information about the company, its work and opportunities can be found at www.arqiva.com