Consider this: you spend years grinding before getting your degree but feel stressed about not knowing what to do next. You owe thousands of dollars in student loans but cannot find a job that pays well enough to sustain you. Eventually, you end up discovering that the skills you had learned through university aren't enough in the changing world of work.
While this description may sound terrifying, it is not that uncommon an experience. That's where apprenticeships come in: you get paid employment and sponsored training without ever having to go to university, making it a realistic alternative to obtaining a degree!
Apprenticeships are what you make of them!
The flexibility of apprenticeships makes it fascinating to see how drastically different the journey of two apprentices can be.
Choosing the path
Some people are highly interested in the industry they choose to apply to, can't wait to be a part of it, and see apprenticeships as a jumpstart into that sector. While that does sound like a plan, it doesn't have to be the case, and it's okay if you are only looking to explore through relevant experience. One of our podcast guests, Allanah Green, worked as a Digital & Technological Solutions Degree Apprentice at BT but was not much into technology. Instead, she chose Literature and Geography in high school. So, really, it's more of a matter of following what captivates you.
Apprenticeships can last for different time periods depending on your program and where you are. In the UK, they generally last between 1 and 5 years. So, if you just want to figure out whether it's a path that could work for you or feel drawn enough to commit yourself for a long time, you can always look for paths that fit your needs.
It doesn't have to be an alternative!
You don't always have to choose between university and apprenticeships. Degree apprenticeships pay you for your work, in addition to paying your tuition as you get the same qualifications as you otherwise would. However, working towards a degree while also having a full-time job is challenging. Your social life may look different from what you expect, and you might not be inclined to commit to a career too early on. But it's definitely doable if you are willing to put in the work, and at least an option worth considering.
If apprenticeships sound like something you want to look into, you can find compiled resources about UK apprenticeships here.