From Apprentice to Chairman: How an apprenticeship offers a career path that can lead to the board room

David Banks
Commentator and Expert on International Business and Politics | David Banks
1st March 2016

Did you know that celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, football legend David Beckham and fashion guru Stella McCartney started out as apprentices?

The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) produced a list ranking 40 of the UK’s wealthiest former apprentices, with a combined net worth of around £20 billion, to include Ozzy Osbourne, Jamie Oliver and David Beckam.

I began my working life as an engineering apprentice. I specialised later in design, moving to management and business studies gaining NVQ level 5.  I worked through all the appointments in industry and I completed my 46 year career in engineering as Chairman and Managing Director.

According to Government figures, there were 492,700 apprenticeship starts in England during 2014-15 and the number of apprenticeship starts increased across all age groups, which just goes to show you are never too young, nor too old, to consider one.

Overall, successful completion of an apprenticeship brings a list of life-long benefits.  Serving an apprenticeship is a valuable alternative to qualifying for a degree. On average, apprenticeships last between 3-4 years, so when the term is completed, the apprentice will become qualified to national and international standards in the subject studied.  They will be seen as skilled in their trade and very attractive to employers.

Completing an apprenticeship and becoming qualified is a direct route to lifelong fulfilling employment and a career path that can lead to the board room as a Senior Executive.

Apprenticeships provide in depth training in both the theoretical and practical aspects of the subject. The training is structured over the period and usually planned in conjunction with a recognised training organisation.

Aims and objectives are fundamental aspects of the training programme which will probably be built around the National Vocational Qualification scheme. NVQ qualifications are widely recognised and continuing training after the end of the apprenticeship can lead to qualification to NVQ level 5 which is equivalent to a degree.

Apprentices throughout the training period have the status of employees. They are working for a company. So as employed people they are salaried, just like any other employee.  They do not have to pay tuition fees and therefore do not need student loans that have to be repaid in the future.

Also in most cases at the end of their apprenticeship the employer will provide the newly qualified apprentice with a job and encouragement to undertake further training.

Apprenticeships are now available in a very wide range of skills. Precision tool making, aero engineering, electricians, plumbers, builders, motor engineers, telecommunications, computer and IT Plus there are a range of military apprenticeships as well. The list is virtually endless.

So the apprenticeship provides the opportunity to train whilst being paid. It provides excellent employment opportunities once qualified and a path to a lifelong rewarding career.

If you'd like to find out more about becoming an apprentice click here to visit the National Apprenticeship Service website.

About the author:

David Banks is a speaker and media commentator specialising in international business & politics. With 25 years' experience at CEO level, David Banks is an expert in the field of business consultancy. To connect with David visit

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