What is the perfect age for an apprenticeship?
What is the perfect age for an apprenticeship? Barclays says every age. The organisation is championing apprenticeships – of all sorts and for everyone. With four main apprenticeship pathways, open to people of different ages and from different backgrounds, the organisation is setting an example to us all. They have really got to the heart of what apprenticeships can offer.
Hugh Mundy, now 59, started his Foundation Apprenticeship with Barclays in November 2017. Originally from Zimbabwe, where he pursued a 15-year career as a pilot and qualified flying instructor, Hugh moved to the UK in search of a more stable political situation. After facing a number of health issues, he struggled to get back to work.
At my age I thought it was very difficult to start something new, and it was only through a career adviser that I considered the Barclays apprenticeships - which I didn’t know existed.
Hugh told us of his surprise when he discovered there were apprenticeships in banking and management. Previously he had, like many others, automatically associated them with trade professions, and didn’t realise that they could be used by people in lots of difference circumstances, and at different points in their careers. Looking back, he reflects:
This experience hasn’t changed my perception of what an apprenticeship is, it’s changed my awareness of who apprenticeships can be used by. Apprenticeships seemed always to be a way for non-university types to get into the workforce, and that’s not to say they are not academic; it’s just that some people choose not to go to university.
Amina Ishaq, also a Barclays apprentice on the Foundation Apprenticeship Programme, had a similar understanding of apprenticeships until recently. “I’ve seen many apprenticeship ads on TV and they were always putting an age to it: let’s say if you were 16, 17, 18, 24 maximum…That kind of put me off; not only am I older, but when I was that age, nothing like this was offered to me.”It was only when she came across adverts for Barclays’ Apprenticeships that she realised it was possible to do an apprenticeship outside of the 16 – 24 demographic.
Most people are not aware that you can do an apprenticeship as an older person, and there are plenty of people who would find them really valuable – for example if they are out of work, want a career change, or want to get into something they don’t have any experience of doing. So, definitely, in that sense, it’s a false façade, from what I’ve seen with the age range. I guess anyone of any age can take an apprenticeship, it requires more practical skills than having an academic education, which you can pick up along the way anyway.
For Sanad Mohamed, aged 18, currently undertaking a Foundation Apprenticeship, it was a gap in his formal education path which brought him to the apprenticeships option. “I guess for me it was the unfortunate turn of events during my education of me not being able to resit my year 12 (college). I started exploring different possibilities and found the opportunity with Barclays. My aspiration would be to start a Higher Apprenticeship which will be in leadership and management and then slowly get into a management position, while gaining practical banking experience on the side.”
The benefits of an apprenticeship for all ages is not only visible on the apprentices’ side. Aside from being an inspiration for other organisations of the sort, the programme is equipping Barclays with one of its most important assets – motivated and skilled people. Shaun Meekins, Head of Operations - Early Careers sharres his views:
We have an opportunity to redefine Apprenticeships. In today’s climate, we should be opening our doors to all candidate communities. Age, experience and levels of qualification are irrelevant. If we are to focus our attention on recruiting for potential, we should be offering a wholly inclusive and accessible channel through which anybody can apply. Equally, in order to reflect our customer base, having different generations of Apprentices creates a greater connection between our colleagues and our customers.