National Apprenticeship Week: The Importance of Work-Based Training

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For the purpose of full disclosure, I feel that I should start off by saying that I’m not an apprentice, nor have I ever completed an apprenticeship. In fact, the opportunity was hardly presented to me at all while I was at school so it wasn’t even something I’d really considered. When I finished my A-Levels at school, I went to university and completed an undergraduate and a postgraduate course before looking to join the world of work.

Or trying to.

I had a small amount of volunteering experience and had done a two-week work experience placement at a local primary school when I was 16, but I didn’t really have any experience to write about on job applications or to talk about in interviews. I’d only been into an office once before! I also wasn’t really sure exactly what I wanted to do, as I didn’t have any experience to guide me which made it a lot harder to even decide what I wanted to apply for.

A quick search on the internet shows that I am not alone at all. 64% of university students say that having the required work experience is their main barrier when looking for a job, and 45% said that they felt unprepared for work[1]. Work-based training, whether as a placement, internship or an apprenticeship, is brilliant for helping young people determine their career goals, feel more confident in the workplace and be better prepared to apply for future job roles.

This year, the 15th annual National Apprenticeship Week is taking place from the 7th to 13th February. This year, the theme for the week is ‘build the future’ with a focus on how developing skills and knowledge is important for both the individuals looking to build a prosperous career and the businesses reliant on their workforce to succeed. To mark the occasion, I thought that this was the perfect opportunity to write about how all the training I received whilst completing work experience at Oracle helped me to grow in confidence and secure a permanent position here.

In May 2021, I joined Oracle for a month of work experience. From day one, I was greeted with an extensive training schedule that would introduce me to the different tasks completed by the Oracle team on a daily basis. This covered more PR-specific training like how to write press releases and how to pitch to journalists, as well as more general training like how to answer the office phones and navigate the computer filing system.

Having the opportunity to learn in a practical, hands-on way is very different from sitting in lectures at university, but is completely invaluable when learning what a company and a job are like. Whilst university courses help to boost students’ knowledge on specific topics and students gain and develop skills along the way, it is not always apparent how that information is directly transferable into the workplace. Work-based training is much more focused on learning and skill development that is directly beneficial to the organisation providing the training, and are something that all young people should be able to access to help them improve their job prospects.

By the time I had finished my work experience, I had learnt a lot from all the training that I had received that month. I was overjoyed when I was offered a job as an Account Executive at Oracle and know that I will be able to continue developing with the further training opportunities available to me.