Apprenticeships vs Higher Education-what’s right for you?

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As GCSE exams get under way, students are under pressure not only to perform well in the exam hall, but also to make some crucial, life-changing decisions about their future. For those who are weighing up the options to either continue their formal education in the classroom, or opt for some ‘real-time’ on the job training, ANS may just have the ideal option for those who are keen to gain hands on industry experience while earning a competitive salary and gaining qualifications.

ANS Academy Manager, Anna O’Brien says, “Each year, we take on around 15 Young Apprentices, aged between 16-24, on a three-year placement and since our Apprenticeship Scheme began with just seven recruits in 2013, we have seen a total of 49 through our doors. While many school leavers believe the next natural step on their education journey is to enroll at college, the academic path is not always the right one for everybody. Several ANS Academy apprentices have tried higher education but decided it wasn’t for them, often they’re left behind at the back of the classroom due to shyness, or some just naturally blossom on vocational courses. What we have seen is that apprenticeships are great for bringing people out of their shell. Once such example of this is Callum who is currently working with us as a 2nd Line Technical Support. Callum joined us two years ago and was quite shy when he first started, he hardly spoke to anyone; now we can’t shut him up!”

“It’s true,” says Callum, “Being part of the ANS Academy has really helped me feel more confident when I speak to people and has been invaluable in teaching me about the working environment. Being able to gain hands-on experience has helped me to learn about the technical side of the job more than a classroom would have done.”

Another 2015 recruit, Lewis, says; “I applied to get on the scheme because I was hopeful to get a career from it; luckily at ANS once you are completed you are given a full-time job on the service desk so I’ve been really fortunate.

I wasn’t too sure about what I wanted to study at college and I wanted to start a career ASAP so an apprenticeship was the more logical option. I’ve already passed my ITIL exam and have moved up to the 2nd Line Team that I’m really proud of.”

Each recruit on the ANS Apprenticeship receives full training with assisting customers and their Managed Service IT environments and, not only will they be technology trained, but will also become a Process Delivery guru and Customer Service expert. On the scheme, apprentices begin their level 3 qualifications, taking them through to level 4 including vendor training with CISCO, NetApp VMWare and, unlike many schemes, ANS offers a guaranteed apprenticeship meaning a full-time position will be on offer following completion of the 36 months’ course.

With a wide range of experiences on offer, an apprenticeship doesn’t mean putting yourself in one box right off the bat. Anna says, “A lot of our recruits come in and are so focussed on IT and being on the technical team that they don’t realise that their skills may lie elsewhere in the business. As they try out different areas such as event management or customer relations, they are helped to discover another area of expertise that they love.”

Increasingly too, ANS is seeing more and more female candidates applying to join our Apprenticeship scheme. Kirsty joined the scheme in 2016 and, after just eight months with the company, was chosen by the board to go to the Director’s Ball in recognition for her work and contribution to ANS. Something she is very proud of. She says, “I have never really enjoyed education and have always been more of a hands-on type of girl, so going to university was sort of a last resort for me. While it’s true that I see all my friends at uni and living away from home, and see them going out and having fun, I also see the other side of them stressing about lectures, the lack of money and debt too. At ANS I don’t have any of that to worry about.”

And Kirsty would certainly encourage anyone thinking about an ANS Apprenticeship to take the leap; “If you have a passion for IT and have the knowledge or drive to learn about it then go for it. Apply! It doesn’t take much to fit in as long as you are easy to get along with and are a good worker then this program is for you. I’ll be honest, at times it can be hard and stressful but at the end of the day what job isn’t? ANS is an amazing place to work for and if you have a passion for IT I say go for it! Apply. You won’t regret it.”

So why go to college or continue in college when you can become work experienced, and receive guaranteed employment at the end? It’s a no brainer, just look at what all our ANS apprentices receive:

  • On the job training. Employers tend to look at experience rather than qualifications so being a former apprentice looks great on your CV
  • A qualification in Advanced Diploma and a higher Diploma in ICT professionalism, run in-house.
  • A wage, which increases every quarter dependent on your skills
  • Experience – it a future employer has you and a person that simply gained their qualification at university on paper in front of them, chances are they’ll pick the person who has both the qualification and work experience.
  • Graduation parties – Apprentices don’t miss out on getting spruced up to celebrate their success
  • Invitations to the Apprentice of The Year awards ceremony

To apply to be part of this year’s ANS Academy intake, apply here