School leavers should consider Apprenticeships

As a nation of students pick up their GCSE results, thousands of school leavers have the choice between staying on to do their A Levels or going out into the big, wide world and trying to find work.

There is another option, and that is to take an apprenticeship, which gives trainees the opportunity to earn while they are learning. Securing an apprenticeship is just like looking for any other job however, and you need to make your CV stand out in a crowd.

An increasing popular apprenticeship are those that turn a school leaver into an installation electrician. Iain Macdonald is the head of education and training at ECA, the Electrical Contractors’ Association, is giving school leavers top tips on making their CV’s really stand out this summer, whatever industry you want to work in.

1. Consider your options and think carefully about which apprenticeships you want to apply for. There’s no point applying for a building apprenticeship if you want to be a plumber.

2. Ask friends and family for advice. If you know someone who works in an industry that interests you, speak to them – they may not be able to get you a job, but their guidance will be invaluable. They may even be able to arrange some work experience to strengthen your CV.

3. Check out the local paper; the majority of companies will advertise entry level positions there.

4. Look on the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) website (www.apprenticeships.org.uk) to find an apprenticeship placement. Or you can get advice from an industry training provider’s website. The largest and best known of these is JTL (www.jtltraining.com).

5. When applying to companies directly, send a covering letter and a copy of your CV. A CV is a great way to showcase your strengths and achievements to potential employers.

6. Avoid sending a generic covering letter or CV. Do your research and tailor each one to the specific company and job role – demonstrate the strengths you can bring to their specific business.

7. Check, double check and triple check your CV, and ask somebody else to proof read it for you. Sloppy mistakes are an instant turn-off for employers.

8. Be proud of any extra-curricular achievements or activities – being involved in sports clubs or gaining a Duke of Edinburgh Award are fantastic for demonstrating team work.

9. If you are successful in getting through to an interview stage, don’t be afraid to emphasise your strong points and sell yourself! During the interview, listen to the questions you are asked and take time to think carefully about your answers.

10. Remember, you’re asking an employer to invest time and money in you – show them why you’re worth it! Even at the initial enquiry stage, knowledge on the company and its competitors can really help you to stand out.