The Student Room Group

[OPINION] Apprenticeships aren't a good alternative to University

Just wanted to share my opinion and why I would personally warn people away from doing an Apprenticeship IF you are wanting to enter the creative industry.

In 2012 I started an Apprenticeship in "Graphic Design". I use quotation marks as I was basically doing Admin and Stock Control for them. It was a horrible experience - not only was it incredibly soul destroying but the "training" provider were a joke. They did not train me at all - just came into the workplace every few weeks for a meeting which was "you need to provide us with X work". The 'on-the-job' training was non-existent - my line manager was too busy to train me. I hated every single second of it.

In late 2012 I was made redundant and frankly I was quite happy with that outcome. I can finally move on from that place.

I did apply to countless Design related jobs still using an, admittedly, crappy portfolio which I now look back on and I am glad I've moved on from there. A lot of these places offered jobs to people with:
A: Experience (I had some, very limited)
B: A degree (err, I thought Apprenticeships were meant to replace University?)
C: A good portfolio (how can I get a good portfolio if I was mainly doing Admin)

I resorted to accepting a job offer at another "sorta-Design-but-not-really" place just to try to gain some experience. I had low expectations entering the place and, frankly, it's lived up to the low expectations I had.

Still, there was an issue. I still didn't have B or C. I knew I had to do something. I ended up applying for an online degree in Graphic Design with IDI. Fast-forward two years later and I'm half-way through my degree and I have a professional portfolio.

I've now had lots of Graphic Design agencies contacting me with job interviews, which is something that I didn't get AFTER my apprenticeship. In fact, recently I had a job offer mostly because of my online degree.

Apprenticeships are still really out-dated, doesn't provide people with a suitable portfolio of work, and at the end of it you've realised that the only thing you can get is another soul destroying job. I would STRONGLY advise that anyone interested in Graphic Design (or the Creative Industry) to follow the traditional route. There's a reason why job adverts say 'requirements: degree' - it's not something you can get just from 1 year's experience in a Design-related field.
(edited 7 years ago)
Reply 1
It's funny you mention that OP.

I have recently graduated with a degree in Graphic Design. I now want to take a U-TURN in my career and want to become a practising speech and language therapist- will be applying to the Masters.

A while ago, I was searching Graphic Design jobs and I was astounded that most, if not, ALL were asking for a degree in Graphic Design. It makes me laugh as some of my family members were questioning my decision is my degree, that I don't "need" it and experience is all that matters. Well, I'm glad I didn't listen to them due to the reasons I put above. I don't know much about apprenticeships, but I defiantly think obtaining a degree is the way to go.
I think whether apprenticeships are decent or not largely comes down to the industry.
The only one I can comment on is accounting, which has really good school-leaver programmes. They train you and some provide you with a degree and/or the ACA. You also progress normally to senior, manager etc.

Most apprenticeships are unfortunately just badly paid jobs. Research is key to avoid that sort of thing.
My apprenticeship is well organised, and has a degree as part of it.

Apprenticeships are definitely an alternative to a traditional university degree route if you pick the right one.

They are probably more appropriate for some industries than others, but don't let a poor experience allow you to tar all apprenticeships with the same brush, there's definitely some good ones out there.
Reply 4
That's probably why I can't find an apprenticeship in Graphic Design.

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