I think we all have it in our minds that apprenticeships are a solution for young adults and school leavers, often a pragmatic alternative to University to get trained. In reality, this is not always the case.

In 2014, former Minister for Skills & Enterprise, Matthew Hancock, had said that

‘Older’ apprenticeships could be a great trend for the economy, as the demand from employers is growing quickly and these programmes help people of all ages, including the over 50s, to get and hold down skilled jobs.

That vision was quite right, in 2016 the number of people aged 45+ going into apprenticeships grew to over 40.000!

So, what’s the mystery? Why don’t we hear more often about these success stories?

52-year-old Angela Bovell wonders just the same, she revealed to the Telegraph in an interview.

People are simply not aware they can choose an apprenticeship even outside the classic 16-24 age window.

For instance, Angela enrolled on Barclays ‘Bolder Apprenticeship Programme’, a special scheme tailored to be a “support for adults over the age of 24 wishing to get back into the workplace”, but when her young daughter told her job advisor that her mum was an apprentice, they thought it was a joke.

There is a kind of stigma and a strange aura of disbelief around the topic. Hollywood has successfully channelled these feelings in light-hearted comedies such as ‘The Intern’, in which a 70-years-old De Niro becomes a senior intern at an online fashion firm. In the fiction, comic gags arise constantly from the visual contrast between De Niro and his much younger colleagues, and from their different manners and ways to approach the same tasks.

In reality, though, it’s not that bad, Angela tells us.

Pretty much everyone is younger than me, either in their twenties or thirties, but I’ve never had to worry about being the oldest person around. I was given training, learnt the terminology, and was also taught to be digital savvy. I also get on with young people anyway. I have two children in their twenties and thirties, so I can adapt. My age has never seen like a problem to me on this apprenticeship.

And she’s not the only one thinking that way.

Former Minister for Pensions, Baroness Altmann, reminds us that we should rethink about what it really means being ‘old’ today:

As we can look forward to living longer … it is never too late to learn new skills, take on new challenges and live life to the full.

Besides, she continues,

….having a diverse workforce (including an age diverse workforce) enables a business to reflect its customer base, to better understand and better serve its whole range of clients.

 

So, beyond the common disbelief, apprenticeships for ‘older’ people are definitely out there and they are incredibly valuable. In fact, the Government has foreseen that, in the next 10 years, there will be about 13.5 million extra job vacancies, whilst only 7 million students will leave high-school or college in that time