Savvy young people in London are bucking the education trend as they shun traditional college education for apprenticeships. Oxford Street based Venus Business Communications is reaping the benefits of this trend with over a third of its trainee staff coming from apprenticeship schemes.
Monet Peart and Sara Hogarth are forging their way into IT and business connectivity in the company after dropping out of college to pursue a more business focussed path into work and education. “College just didn’t suit me. I don’t see myself as a traditional academic and the laid back college approach to attending lectures was not for me. After a summer placement in a property management company I knew I was money motivated and like the real life working environment. Despite my Mum telling me not to drop out of college, I ditched my A-levels to earn money and make a contribution to a business in a growth,” reveals Monet.
Monet’s outlook on a career and qualifications is a trend that Venus is seeing in many young people who are acutely aware of the time and finance required to gain qualifications through higher education. Sara Hogarth was studying performing arts on a two year course. She decided that a career in business was the way forward and left after just one year with a theatre singing and drama certificate. “The traditional step after completing the qualification would have been to consider University. I’m very hands on, so the thought of lengthy lectures and exams didn’t appeal. Also the idea of looking for a job after university with a £40,000 debt hanging around my neck didn’t make any financial sense. I’m earning a small wage currently while I get valuable experience and a qualification,” said Sara.
The apprenticeship works for Venus too. “We are a growing company in a sector that is expanding rapidly. Our apprentices get to make a valuable contribution to the organisation and we aim to cultivate them, so they become full time members of staff after they have gained their qualifications. They are not only learning the technical aspects of our business but also embracing the business culture, often not seen with traditional graduates that emerge from universities with a more of an academic culture that we have to wean them off. They will get experience of all elements of the business from marketing to engineering allowing them to gravitate towards the parts of the business they are interested in and where their skill sets allow them to make the maximum contribution,” says Brian Iddon, Venus Director.
Monet and Sara will complete a Business and IT analyst qualification during their apprenticeship at Venus. “I chose Venus as it is a growing company in an expanding sector, so there is opportunity to grow with the company. It provides fibre connections to businesses across London, so I’m learning a great deal about connectivity from the engineering to the marketing,” says Monet.
“I’m learning more at Venus than I believe I could in college as you are working with teams of people all aiming to complete tangible business projects and make money from them. I’m working alongside technical and engineering support teams in a real world environment that is equipping me with technical and business skills first hand,” reflects Sara.
Sara and Monet combine their business day with college coursework and on-line training to gain their qualifications, avoiding the need for day release and maximising time and benefits for the business. Apprenticeships may not suit every business and every student but for the London business savvy youth it is providing a tempting alternative to lectures and loans.