As it comes up to one year since I began my apprenticeship at OxLEP, I have been reflecting on this decision, and about apprenticeships as an opportunity in general.
I decided to apply for what is now my role within the organisation, following a brief time at university, in which I discovered that this way of learning was not suited to me and the attributes I believe I hold.
In just under 12 months since I began as a PR and Communications Apprentice, I have attended events in the company of Oxfordshire business leaders, pitched stories on the county’s world-class capabilities to local media, and developed a rounded knowledge of the role public relations plays.
My apprenticeship is a Level-4 Higher apprenticeship- which whilst completely different- can be compared academically to a foundation degree. This was not something I really understood was an option when I was leaving school, which is why I initially decided to follow the majority of my peers and enrol at university.
In my day-to-day role at OxLEP, I contribute to the website and social media of the organisation, produce press releases, and assist in the organisation of a number of key events surrounding Oxfordshire and the local economy.
Within my apprenticeship, I have one day a week ‘off-the-job’, in which I work on my academic projects, and attend a series of relevant webinars from the PRCA- my apprenticeship training provider.
Within my role in the organisation, I have worked on several different campaigns, working with all of the different OxLEP teams, including OxLEP Skills- whose role it is to help facilitate and promote apprenticeships in the county. This has given me a more detailed view as to the opportunities that are available to young people in Oxfordshire, and given me the chance to share my experience with others, to play my part in ensuring that apprenticeships are not overlooked.
Although for some an apprenticeship is not suited to maximising their capabilities, I have found that in my experience this is more than just ‘earning while you learn’, it is not only a feasible alternative to university, but for some is far superior. Whether or not this is an applicable opportunity for young people personally, what is important is that they are presented with a full range of information on all the different opportunities out there for them, to enable themselves to make a more measured, holistic decision.
Over the past year I have also taken on an ‘Apprenticeship Ambassador’ role, alongside other apprentices from a whole range of different organisations and industries from around the county, going into schools, delivering presentations and stimulating conversation on the different routes into careers with young people across Oxfordshire.
My apprenticeship so far has given me a whole range of experience, and allowed me to take on various roles and responsibilities, that I wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity to do.
Not only academically have I found this opportunity to be a much more beneficial experience for me personally, but the hands-on nature of an apprenticeship in general, and being fully accepted as a member of a staff team, has given me a real insight into the working world. As I look ahead at the next few months, where my apprenticeship will be nearing completion, it is apparent to me that my experience and the way I have been fully immersed in an industry I hope to progress in, are the key strengths I will take forward.