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I recently attended the first Festival of Apprenticeships Roadshow, and I was disappointed to see that, three years on from when I attended sixth form, young people still receive little to no information about apprenticeships.

I was lucky enough to speak to a couple of students who had some great career aspirations but had been told by teachers and careers advisers at their schools that the only route to achieving their goals is to attend university. This particular response did not surprise me, as I was faced with the same issue when I was at school.

In 2017, I began my A-Level journey in the hope of enrolling onto a Level 4 Apprenticeship. I had no interest in going to university even though it was the only post 18 route that school pushed. We would have full days dedicated to UCAS applications, student finance talks and trips to universities but of course, nothing about apprenticeships.

Fast-forward a year and I have my final parents evening in year 13, where the question was asked, ‘why do I have to go to university?’, I was met with a disappointing response of, ‘because 86% of our students go to university.’ I was stunned, it was as if the other 14% meant nothing to the school. From that moment I realised I had to do my own research.

In August of 2019, I started an internship at NOCN Group in the marketing team, following my business A-level where I found an interest the world of marketing. Joining NOCN I was surrounded by a team of people who put learners at the heart of everything they do, as well as having a wealth of knowledge about apprenticeships and how to support learners and apprentices. When my internship came to an end, I was offered a fulltime role as a Marketing Apprentice and enrolled onto the Level 4 Digital Marketing Apprenticeship. As an apprentice I was able to put the theory I had learnt into practice straight away, I was earning while I was learning and as a young person this is a great benefit. Since completing in August 2021, I am now the Junior Marketing Executive at NOCN Group, and I have undertaken additional training to progress my skills further.

I think there is a great need for events like the Festival of Apprenticeships Roadshow as the demand for apprenticeships is only going to increase over the coming years. Young people are the workforce of the future, schools and colleges, have a duty of care to provide access to the right information to help them make informed choices about which route is best for them – university or an apprenticeship. They have a significant part to play in providing young people with additional post 16 and post 18 options. Supporting them along the way, after all WE are the future.

Apprenticeships should be celebrated!

India Allen
Junior Marketing Executive, NOCN Group