Apprenticeships seem to appear in the news every couple of years — about the length of time it takes to complete one.
The latest news, according to the Telegraph, is that:
Burberry, Unilever and TNT are among 250 employers that will begin offering degree-level apprenticeships for the first time under a new scheme to make the on-the-job training programme a viable alternative to university, the Government revealed on Thursday.
Business Secretary Vince Cable made the announcement a few days ago. For anyone wondering, the £18.7m funding for 19,000 places was already earmarked during the summer.
That apprenticeships become an alternative to university is as it should be — and how it used to be.
The Telegraph added (emphases mine):
In Tuesday’s Autumn Statement [November 29, 2011], the Government announced it would review the apprenticeships system to explore how to make the scheme more useful for employers. The scheme was criticised recently after it emerged thousands of new apprenticeship places went to existing employees over 25, instead of creating new jobs for young workers.
It is to be hoped that these places go to young men and women who completed secondary school in the United Kingdom and at present have no future.
A few of the comments following the article say that we should not be blaming teachers for the current lack of job placements for our own young state-educated men and women. Yet, the early episodes of the current Masterchef – The Professionals showed that some of these kids think they can try and try again — starting out with the least effort possible and believing their chances are endless — only to meet with failure. I can almost hear a young secondary school teacher saying, ‘That’s all right, you just keep trying.’ Yet, it was painfully apparent that some of the young Masterchef sous and commis chef contestants thought they could lark about with little to show for their culinary efforts.
What might have been ‘all right’ with Miss Jones or Mr Smith at school is not going to cut it in today’s competitive world. This brings to mind a banner in one of the vocational classrooms in the secondary school I attended:
You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
I have remembered that saying for over 35 years. Every classroom — regardless of academic subject — should have it prominently displayed.
There are two other elements at play with apprenticeships and the type of people who are the target market, if you will. One involves behavioural issues which seem to plague an increasing number of young people today. It appears that there hasn’t been enough discipline at home or at school to clear up the problem. I refuse to believe that Britain has so many young people who truly have ADHD — or whatever this week’s term for it is. It’s more likely that their lives have never been structured towards critical thinking, self-reliance, hard work and a can-do attitude. If these are absent at home, they are also likely to be absent in school.
The other problem is an absence of the seven virtues, such as diligence, humility and patience. This is what I have found on Web posts concerning apprenticeships and entry-level jobs. Note how often patience and diligence show up:
– Apprenticeships in general and in hospitality (from eHow.co.uk):
Once you complete your apprenticeship, you will be a skilled professional who, if you work hard and have a good work ethic, will be in great demand for years to come …
You can, of course, obtain apprenticeships in the field of hospitality but you can also get in on the bottom rung, for example washing dishes in a hotel kitchen, and work your way up to the position you strive for, perhaps hotel manager. Most people in the hospitality industry should not be afraid of a little hard work and long hours on your feet.
– Fashion industry (from Teen Vogue):
Landing a job or internship in any popular industry is always a challenge: there are undoubtedly more qualified people than there are positions available. But with patience, persistence, and a positive attitude, you can make your dreams come true.
Well, maybe, but the point is — be patient and be prepared to work! Here’s one more:
Programming is a very mentally demanding task and it requires tons of patience and practice ...
ICT support technicians can deal with either software (the programs and systems on a computer) or hardware (the physical elements of a computer – its inside parts and accessories) depending on the type of role they have and what company they work for. Again, patience is required for this type of job, especially regarding the phrase “Switch it off and switch it back on again.”
It seems that we have taken the notion of instant gratification too far with the current generation. Everything must be available ‘now’, ‘on demand’, ’24/7/365′. Forget patience and perseverance.
Instantaneous success and money are the order of the day. I really hope that the apprentice schemes work, but until parents’ and teachers’ attitudes change, it’s doubtful.