University had always been my go to plan and throughout school the UCAS process is at the forefront of students minds. Just like my peers, I had never considered any other post A-Level options. After various university open days and countless personal statement drafts, Allsop presented me with the opportunity to gain a degree, earn a wage and be exposed to invaluable experience; it quickly became obvious that I couldn’t decline. I have now completed my first year at Allsop, and can confidently say that the choice to join was the best one.
There is a certain stigma surrounding apprenticeships, and their popularity to school leavers continues to be low – this year there has been a fall in the number of young people starting apprenticeships, and despite the government’s efforts to increase numbers with the National Apprenticeship Service, there was only 375,800 apprenticeship starters in 2017/18 compared to 495,000 the previous year. There is the misconception that these schemes are aimed towards low skilled sectors with little career progression, when in fact the degree apprenticeship option is the opposite. At Allsop the experience, skills of my colleagues and potential career progression I am subject to is impressive, which is an increasingly crucial factor to young people today.
I was introduced to Allsop via my geography teacher at school, who encouraged me to undertake two weeks work experience. This led to an offer to be the first Trainee Surveyor in the Leeds office as part of the Residential Investment and Development team. A typical week for me consists of a full day at university in Leeds (where I study the Part Time Real Estate and Property Management degree) with remaining four days spent at work, and in the year I have been here, I don’t remember a week where I’ve been at my desk every day. I have gained a vast amount of property experience in the first year alone; being involved with countless viewings, inspections, marketing preparations and attending auctions, all of which is highly valuable exposure to both investors and an ever changing market.
As much as my first year post-school differs from the majority of 20 year olds, my peers at university are not benefitting from working world experiences that Allsop have given me, and will not be until they undertake year in industry or a graduate roll. I can take the theory learnt in lecture theatres directly to work and apply them to real situations, and by the time I have graduated will have 5 years of this experience under my belt.
The financial aspect of a degree apprenticeship is undoubtedly more attractive than university. Friends who have now completed their first year of a three / four year degree are in huge amounts of debt already, with many owing c.£30,000 in tuition fees alone. This is a worry I will never have as I am lucky enough to study for a degree without the cost (‘earn while I learn’). Another worry that I won’t have is the struggle of finding a graduate job in a saturated market, where there are many more university grads than jobs available. I am also at the envy of my friends with multiple team trips, nights out and social events, not to mention the amount of shopping I’m able to do!
Despite negative views, there has been a rise in ‘higher skilled’ apprenticeships, in 2017/18 there were 111,000 apprenticeship starts in Business, Administration and Law, and 23,000 in Construction, Planning and the Built Environment. The outdated idea that apprenticeships are for low skilled people with poor grades needs to change, and is partially doing so, with Cambridge University now offering apprentice schemes as well as other Russell Group Universities and Boris Johnson’s enthusiasm for apprenticeships, saying they’re ‘indispensable to the future of this country.’ I think that part of the low amount of apprenticeship is due to lack of knowledge, the majority of my friendship group, including myself, didn’t see them as a viable option until further education on them. Working for Allsop has meant I have avoided taking a degree with added debt, to ultimately end up in the same place in five years’ time. Of course I have sacrificed the ‘university lifestyle’ however I am much more set for the future than any of my peers due to the apprenticeship scheme at Allsop.