Apprenticeships: taking the non-academic route into the world of work

A few weeks ago, I went out for tea with some friends and on the way out of the restaurant I realised the waiter was a boy I went to high school with.  We exchanged an awkward “Hello” and “How are you?”, and he asked me if I enjoyed my meal.  Then he asked a deeper question…


“What are you doing with your life these days?”


I told him I was doing an apprenticeship, I was happy with my life in the working world and that I felt very grown up. And then he said something that threw me a curveball…


“You were one of the smart ones, why aren’t you at University?”


I wasn’t sure how to feel. I was flattered but at the same time insulted.  I laughed, mumbled some words and left.  But immediately afterwards I thought to myself:


“Am I not an intelligent person because I haven’t attended University?”


The answer, after some reflection (and a little existential crisis) when I got home, was no - that is not the case.  I realised that he was probably just trying to be nice and I had misinterpreted him.  I have good GCSE grades, good A-Levels and now a good job.  The honest, hand on heart truth is that University was not for me.  I’m a stress head.  I’m a perfectionist.  I don’t sleep if things are not completed. For me, it was a no brainer not to go to University.


An alternative path


My first job was an apprenticeship and I was convinced I would be there for life.  A young office, a three-minute drive to work, progression opportunities and a ‘treat day’ once a month with a disgusting amount of food left in the kitchen for us to help ourselves to.  However, it was not all it cracked up to be and I was miserable.  It turns out young people argue a lot, the short drive was not getting me home any quicker due to very intense hours of overtime, and the treats just made me fat.


I had no help, I was told off for doing things wrong and despite being there for 6 months, I did not know everyone by name.


Giving it another go

I have since started a new apprenticeship at Trinity McQueen and thankfully, things are completely different.  I have around the clock support, people who want what is best for me and want to help in any way they can, and despite only being here a couple of months, not only do I know everyone by name, I know their interests, their favourite projects and why – everything, right down to their dog’s names.



Being an apprentice is not looked down on here, I am not taken for granted and I am not patronised. Instead, I am a valued team member, I am respected in the office and I am happy.  I am living the fun part of University; working, earning, and visiting my friends who are plotted around the country for a boogie on a weekend.  And I, like my University friends, will get a qualification that will help me progress and do well in my life.

I am Trinity McQueen’s first apprentice, so this is a learning curve for them too.  But I get the impression that they, like me, want to make the most of it.  It may even lead to them taking on more apprentices in the future as the business grows.

It has taken me a while and a few trial runs, but it finally seems like things are looking up for me. Here’s to the future!


Annabel Gerrard – Business Administration Apprentice

Annabel Gerrard