When I finished sixth form in the summer of 2021, it was engrained in me that university was the next step in my academic journey. Apprenticeships were only just beginning to be spoken about and therefore my knowledge of them was minimal.
However, in the past few years, they have surged in popularity across the UK and Ireland. We have seen apprenticeships prominent in school careers presentations; with more and more students applying to them than ever before.
UCAS reported that today more than 40% of all undergraduate applicants express an interest in apprenticeships. In the Jewish community, as well, they are becoming more common and accepted. This year we have seen, the first apprentice working within the Jewish community.
If you were leaving school today, looking for your next step, why wouldn’t you strongly consider applying to an apprenticeship? The option to have no student debt would be a welcome benefit to many. With an apprenticeship, you still get the benefits of teaching and a qualification but alongside beneficial work experience too.
In a world where workplace experience is seen as more valuable on a CV than a University degree, this would be crucial in giving someone a head start into the industry they dream to work in.
However, one of the main reasons many of my generation go to university is for the student experience. The socialising, the nights out, the experience of living away from home for the first time and the sports teams and societies are all strong pull factors for students. The apprentice experience does not compare to this when you spend most of your time in the office working a 9-5. This is where has UJS stepped in.
I am proud that this year we launched the UJS Apprenticeship Network with the aim of representing Jewish apprentices in the same way we represent University students whilst also providing Jewish apprentices with a Jewish student life. We provide after-work social events for like-minded apprentices to meet in addition to connecting them to their local Jewish society (of which we have over 75) to ensure they can still experience the benefits of ‘student life’ whilst enjoying the perks of an apprenticeship. And, in the unfortunate situation that an apprentice experiences antisemitism, we will be on hand to support.
This National Apprenticeships Week, we are therefore proud to be launching a campaign to ensure every Jewish apprentice in the UK and Ireland can practice their Judaism in the workplace without any issues. No Jewish apprentice should ever have to work on a High Holy Day.
No Jewish apprentice should have to work late on a Friday into Shabbat. And, no Jewish apprentice should ever have to go to a work event where they can’t eat the food. Every Jewish apprentice should be able to practice and celebrate their identity without any risk of repercussion and that is our mission.
In an ever-changing world, I think it is safe to say, we are going to keep seeing more and more people applying for apprenticeships, and as they do, UJS will be here to support every Jewish apprentice every step of the way.
If you are a Jewish apprentice in the UK and Ireland, you can join our network here: www.ujs.org.uk/apprenticeships
- Matty Fisher, apprenticeships sabbatical officer, UJS
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