The most difficult choice for most young people as they are about to leave school is whether to continue in education or go straight into the world of work.
There is a third way, though, which aims to combine the best of both worlds – an apprenticeship, which combines classroom learning, on-the-job training and the chance to earn a wage.
Last week The Edge, an £8.5m scheme to run into 2018, was launched in Cumbria with the aim of training employees in small and medium-sized firms in the county. Apprenticeships are set to be a key part of this.
Rob Johnston, the chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, one of the organisations involved in the scheme, said: "We have long been champions of apprenticeships and we’re keen to see more apprentices developed in the county. Apprenticeships aren’t just for young people – they can be undertaken at any age and by new employees or existing staff.
"As part of this initiative we’ll be encouraging businesses to take advantage of apprenticeships in line with their business needs and expand the range of apprenticeships - ensuring the right apprenticeships and apprenticeship provision."
Cumbria is one of the best places in the country to serve an apprenticeship. Three of Furness’ biggest employers – BAE Systems, GSK and Siemens – all featured in the top 10 of a national poll of employers for young people.
Ted Creighton, head of early careers and skills at BAE Systems shared services, said: "Just last year, our commitment to providing the highest standards of training for our apprentices was recognised through a Princess Royal Training Award, and we were also fortunate enough to be named Macro Employer of the Year for our apprentice offering. However, the fact this league table is compiled by the apprentices themselves, makes this particularly rewarding.
"We are employing an unprecedented number of apprentices across BAE Systems – and have close to 1,000 apprentices training in Barrow. Apprentices are our future, so it is essential we pass on our business's unique skills, knowledge and expertise to the next generation."
Stephen Stewart, GSK’s global talent programme lead, added: “Our apprenticeship programmes help us to build a diverse workforce and develop the talented people that help ensure patients and consumers all over the world continue to have access to our products. That’s why we continue to invest in our apprentices and offer them a challenging and rewarding experience with future career prospects.
Click here to find out more about apprenticeships in Cumbria.