Traditional study paths challenged

PUBLISHED: 13:00 01 January 2015

Lynsey Lawrence and Nikita Hopkins.

Lynsey Lawrence and Nikita Hopkins.

Archant

THE traditional approach of entering university via sixth form is being challenged by some Weston apprentices - and they are heading for higher education while still working.

The Government has announced a funding plan for three million new apprenticeships, and the number of young people deciding to opt for training while on the job is rising in Weston.

One of these is 21-year-old Nikita Hopkins, who lives in the town and completed an advanced apprenticeship in business administration at North Somerset Council.

Weston College student Nikita has also now started a foundation degree in business management, while still working with the council.

She said: “When I left school I went to work as a chef at a hotel, where I gained two NVQs.

“I became more involved in the admin side of the hotel and I thought about finding an apprenticeship. There was one going with North Somerset Council so I applied got a position in the council’s adult social services department.

“While working, I gained the advanced business administration apprenticeship qualification and became interested in business analysis. But I was told you needed a degree to work as a business analyst. I realised I had enough UCAS points to go on to higher education and now I’m studying for a foundation.”

Nikita said her work with the council has definitely helped her with the new course.

She said: “There is a lot to learn, but being an apprentice has really prepared me for the course.

“I’m working part-time so I’m still gaining on-the-job knowledge and I’m being paid too, which is very useful when you’re a student.”

Lynsey Lawrence, Nikita’s assessor at the college, said: “A lot of people do not know you can go on to university through an apprenticeship, but it seems astute apprentices are now catching on to this and making it work for them.

“Nikita is very motivated. She wanted to progress her career and has had the backing of an employer who knows that continuing her education means she will be a highly experienced and invaluable employee.

“Progression through higher education is something that all employers taking on apprentices should consider.”

The Mercury backed a 2014 college campaign to boost Weston’s economy by creating 100 new apprenticeships in 100 days. It more than doubled that target, creating 203.

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