Open and close mobile menu


Insights What are the pros and cons of an apprenticeship?

If you’ve found yourself asking, ‘Are apprenticeships worth it?’, you’re not the only person.

It goes without saying that apprenticeships are a great way to learn, gain confidence, and kick-start your career journey with practical skills. Those are just a few reasons we have apprentices join our programmes each year.

However, if you're contemplating this decision, it's natural to weigh the pros and cons. Apprenticeships may not suit everyone, so it's important to reflect on what matters most to you before making a choice.

Ready to explore further? Let's dive in!

The pros of an apprenticeship

So, what are some of the benefits of doing an apprenticeship? Here are the top five reasons we believe apprenticeships offer an excellent platform for skill development and growth.

1. Benefit from hands-on learning

CIPD’s 2023 Learning at Work report shows that bridging the skills gap tops the priority list for Learning & Development (L&D) teams. This is where apprenticeships come in.

An apprenticeship is a good option for those who thrive as hands-on learners - those who value applying learning in a work-based setting. For people with diverse ways of thinking, regular learning approaches might not be the best fit. An apprenticeship, where you can apply your learning in a real-world setting, it's a different story.

The apprenticeship will expose you to real-life experiences in the professional realm, helping to make the transition from school to full-time employment a smooth process.

2. Gain industry experience

Apprentices jump right into practical tasks and projects from the get-go, tackling real-world challenges head-on.

Once you've completed your apprenticeship, you’ll have acquired practical know-how essential for the field. This includes experience dealing with key stakeholders and insights into industry best practices, giving you a valuable edge in your career path.

3. Get paid to learn

This benefit hardly needs explaining.

Apprenticeship programmes are expertly designed to provide comprehensive training tailored to your needs, ensuring you learn effectively and efficiently. But don't worry—your hard work won't go unrewarded.

While benefiting from invaluable training and support, you'll also earn a salary and enjoy the benefits of being a full-time, permanent member of staff from day one.

4. Build a network

An apprenticeship community must consist of a strong support network of apprentices, line managers, senior leaders, the Learning & Development team, the wider early careers community of graduates and placement students, and mentors.

You'll have the opportunity to learn from a mix of individuals, from leading experts to fellow apprentices who share your journey. Their collective support will serve as a cornerstone as you navigate through your apprenticeship experience.

Which brings us to our next point.

4. Develop in a diverse environment

Unlike traditional roles, apprentices often experience working in different teams, collaborating with people from diverse backgrounds, and exploring different divisions. This exposure enables you to evolve into a more multifaceted and adaptable professional.

By immersing yourself in a range of projects, you'll gain deeper insights into your career aspirations and how you’ll achieve your ambitions.

The cons of an apprenticeship

Every decision comes with its upsides and downsides. When you're making a big decision like picking a career, it's smart to look at both. So, what can be the challenges of being an apprentice?

1. They can be competitive to secure

It’s true that companies will offer a select number of apprenticeship opportunities.

Does that mean that apprenticeships are hard to get? Many people will share their challenges securing an apprenticeship, but don’t let that deter you. Crafting a thoughtful application and understanding the qualities of a successful apprentice are crucial steps before applying.

2. You’ll need some minimum qualifications

Apprenticeships have specific entry requirements, such as minimum qualifications, which may limit access for certain individuals.

Make sure to read carefully what qualifications you need to apply for an apprenticeship.

3. Lower starting salary

While apprentice salaries may initially be lower than other roles, it's worth recognizing the value of the comprehensive training provided. Instead of focusing on immediate pay, consider the invaluable skills gained. 

After completing the programme and gaining a nationally recognized qualification, you’ll have access to new career opportunities and increased earning potential.

As a Real Living Wage Employer, we offer the Real Living Wage as a minimum starting salary for our AtkinsRéalis Level 6 (Degree Level) Apprentices. This reflects our commitment to recognizing the value apprentices bring to our business and ensuring fair compensation for all career paths.

4. A different social setting

If you’re weighing up the pros and cons of an apprenticeship, chances are you’ll be thinking about the social aspect.

Apprenticeships can offer a rich social experience. Much like university, you’ll set off on your learning journey alongside a group of peers, many of whom are navigating the same stage of life. Plus, our apprentices at AtkinsRéalis often head to the university campus for their study day and even choose to live with other students during their apprenticeship.

Remember that apprenticeships are not just for school leavers. In the 2022/2023 academic year, 48% of the new apprentices were aged 25 and over.

Find your place at AtkinsRéalis

If you think that an apprenticeship could be the right career move for you, you might be wondering what the next steps are. Begin by seeking out companies that share your values and provide programmes tailored to your career goals.

As a leading international organization, we offer apprentices the chance to work with major global clients, while engineering a better future for our planet and its people.

We’re searching for curious minds who ask questions and dare to do things differently. Learn more about our apprenticeship community to see if there’s a place for you at AtkinsRéalis.