Wirral Met helps bridge the skills gap for university students

Wirral Met College is helping university graduates secure real-world work experience through its apprenticeship programme, to help bridge the skills gap.

This week marks National Apprenticeship Week (7-13 February) and Wirral Met College are highlighting that apprenticeships are not just for school leavers.

Wirral Met offers apprenticeships in partnership with over 500 employers, with a wide range of levels available. Career routes include accountancy, management, construction, healthcare, hospitality, science, sports coaching and marketing.

It’s a common misconception that apprenticeships are just aimed at school leavers. Apprenticeships are open to all ages and can be used when upskilling, changing career or starting on the career ladder after university. Latest statistics  show that 76% of apprenticeships started in 2019/20 were by those aged 19 and over.

With both technical and soft skills in demand by employers, many graduates are looking at different routes to employment and are seeing the benefits an apprenticeship can offer them after a degree.

To start an apprenticeship after an undergraduate degree, students need to be learning significantly new knowledge and skills. For example, a degree in English Literature won’t impede you starting a marketing apprenticeship. But after doing a biology degree, you can’t start a biology apprenticeship at a lower level, unless it’s a higher apprenticeship at level 7.

Competition for graduate jobs reached a record high of 91 applications per available vacancy (Institute of Student Employers) in 2021, apprenticeships offer an alternative route for graduates looking to boost their in-demand skills for the future.

22-year-old Caitlin Sullivan, from Heswall, joined Wirral Met on an AAT Assistant Accountant apprenticeship in 2019, after completing a politics degree at the University of York.

“I had a gap in my skillset when I left university and I was lucky to spend time at Wirral Met to considerably improve and polish my knowledge in public finance,” explains Caitlin.

“I was really concerned about my graduate prospects. The question of ‘getting a graduate scheme’ became the golden question and it ruled my third-year experience. When I moved back home to the Wirral after graduating, and amidst the flurry of job-hunting, I found the apprenticeship scheme and I felt like it would open a lot of doors for me.”

Caitlin undertook a two-year apprenticeship at Wirral Borough Council, working in the Finance and Investment division as an apprentice accountant. Alongside gaining an internationally recognised AAT qualification, Caitlin said the apprenticeship helped enhance her CV and gave her a new-found confidence with finance and numbers. 

Now 24 years old, Caitlin completed her apprenticeship in March 2021 and has progressed on to Queen’s University Belfast to study a Masters in International Public Policy – a move she attributes to her time as an apprentice.

Caitlin added, “Without the practical and technical experience I gained throughout my apprenticeship, I don’t think I would’ve embarked on doing a masters in the first place. So in that regard, I would 100% call it a life-changing experience!”

For more information on Wirral Met’s apprenticeships and vacancies, visit https://www.wmc.ac.uk/apprentices-week

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