For a time at sixth form, it was all about university for Emelia Eagle, but with scores of Gloucestershire-based firms now delivering attractive apprenticeships for all ages, she joined many other young people questioning which is the best way forward. She tells SoGlos why, when it came to decision time, she chose the apprenticeship route.
It was an opportunity at Pro Global that caught the 19-year-old's eye. The specialist insurance firm, which has major offices overlooking Gloucester Docks, handles work for some of the biggest names in a world-wide sector and is one of a number of Gloucestershire companies creating career paths attractive enough to keep talent here in the county.
Where did you go to school and what did you do there?
I went to Chosen Hill School, Churchdown, and then on to sixth form there to study A levels. I studied health and social care, psychology and physical education; nothing to do with business, although I had studied business at GCSE.
Why an apprenticeship over university - and is the view of university changing?
I looked at university, and was originally thinking of going and doing something completely different, more to do with physical education rather than anything to do with business. In the end, I decided I would rather do my learning alongside getting paid as well.
I think apprenticeships are seen really positively now as a route to a really good career, and there is more acceptance that it is good for people to learn practically. And, of course, you get paid and get qualifications at the same time. Why would I go to university unpaid when I can study and get paid? I wanted to be proactive about how I forged my career, and it felt right.
What are you doing at Pro Grobal?
I’m doing a Level 3 Business Administration apprenticeship, working in the underwriting area at the moment. We are working with quite a new client. When I started, the team was about six staff but we have had four new starters since then. It is expanding all the time and I have only been here for six months.
There is such a wide variety of people here, too, and all ages. There are people in their early twenties doing apprenticeships as well – not all school and college-leavers.
How is it
It’s going really well.
There are so many avenues you can go down at Pro and there is so much help. I am in underwriting support, but there are so many other fields I could explore. You could even work abroad as the company has offices overseas, too (the firm has offices in London, York (Pennsylvania), Cologne and Buenos Aires).
When I started I really did not know what to expect, but I went in with an open mind. I think that is the best way. Pro helps you find what it is you are good at or want to pursue.
How do you balance studying and working?
Pro is really good at being flexible. I decided to take one day a week for study. You get 20 per cent of your time to do an apprenticeship and can organise your time. Some people will do all their study in one chunk at the end of each month. It is flexible, and it is good to be able to do what suits you best and motivates you.
What do you think of the pay as an apprentice?
I think, for the position I am in and considering I am training as well, I am well paid. It feels like a good starting point.
How long does your current apprenticeship last?
It is a 15-month course, but I could go on to do another, higher apprenticeship afterwards.
How were your family and friends when you said you were not going to university and were choosing an apprenticeship?
My parents have always been supportive of what I wanted to do. It was my decision and something I came to in the last few months of school. I had always said I was going to go to university, but I started to look more and more at apprenticeships and saw the benefits.
My friends have all done different things. One recently asked me about what I did and how it worked as she is still making her choices. She said I always sound really positive about my job.