There is a certain programme on BBC1 that is currently airing every Wednesday at 9pm. It’s the one where a well known businessman gives a bunch of twentysomethings a task to do before firing one of them. It’s become quite a hit apparently.


So much so in fact, that upwards of 8 million people regularly tune in to watch the crème de la crème of Britain’s future entrepreneurs battle it out to be Lord Sugar’s next protégé in, of course, The Apprentice. In the interests of entertainment, no one can doubt the shows’ value and despite the odd ‘character’ that most of us find hard to digest, the show does a great deal in promoting the business talent this country has to offer.


In reality of course, apprenticeships are a far cry from Lord Sugar’s boardroom shenanigans both ideologically and practically. If you asked most people in the street what your average apprentice looked like, they would normally paint you a picture of someone in their late teens who must learn the ropes from the bottom up. Contrast this to the shows contestants who spend most of their time convincing us of their super human ability to conduct business. Showing you are capable is one thing – professing you know it all already is something altogether different.


That is why apprenticeships are so important. Not only do they offer candidates their first taste of a working life, they are often accompanied by educational resources and mentoring schemes designed to raise the overall skill levels within the trade.


As the government’s Apprenticeships website says: “Apprenticeships are an excellent way of gaining qualifications and workplace experience. As an employee, you can earn as you learn and you gain practical skills from the workplace.”


To their credit, the coalition governement have pledged £1.4bn towards apprenticeship schemes over the course of 2011-2012. As well as the construction industry, there are a number of companies from other industries that have signed up to offer many thousands of apprenticeship schemes nationwide.