Weighing up Apprenticeship and University pathways


As my week of work experience at Whiteoaks draws to a close, the time to return to Twynham Sixth Form to face my second year of A levels beckons! As many past sixth form students would remember, the next few months that lie ahead can be fairly stressful when it comes down to making decisions regarding the foreseeable future. Looking into University courses or undergraduate apprenticeships schemes available to you can be a very daunting process and most certainly one I am apprehensive about.

Although, from reading a recent report by the Bath Chronicle, it seems I am not the only A Level student to be feeling overwhelmed and indecisive about the numerous options available once finishing compulsory education. The online report claims one in four British teenagers have ‘no idea’ what to do post leaving school or college. This research, which took place over a period of 15 months in UK Schools, was carried out on more than 80,000 fifteen to eighteen year-olds.

Interestingly, the report also finds that the majority of students in fact have a good idea of what they see themselves doing in the future, but couldn’t see how to do it. As I find myself in this same situation, I too recognise the importance of finding the best viable route for a career that also suits me as an individual – whether that is via an apprenticeship or university degree.

Obviously it is difficult to directly compare an apprenticeship scheme to a university course because they both offer such contrasting opportunities. Universities supply their students with the best environment for learning whilst apprenticeships offer hands-on experience – rightly seen as a very valuable asset by employees.

With so many more people now opting for more vocational routes yet still being just as successful, can you argue one is better than the other?

With apprenticeships being a potential option, I felt gaining an insight into a work environment was crucial and fortunately, businesses such as Whiteoaks are providing opportunities for students like me to get a taste for the working world and an insight into how businesses operate.

This past week has given me a true reflection of the day-to-day running of a busy and strategic technology PR company. Each day I have been given the opportunity to work alongside and shadow a different member from Whiteoaks’ four specialist account teams, working on new innovative projects such as how to use social media for lead generation. I have also had the opportunity to work with expert copywriters to learn copy proofing as well as media specialists to gain insight into how to liaise with the media and produce compelling content.

This experience has given me a fantastic insight and a greater understanding of what the job entails. Most importantly, realising how each day offers new opportunities and a variety of projects to be undertaken. The opportunity has also taught me to be open-minded about any opportunities that present themselves, a perspective I think will come in useful over the course of the next year.