It can be a tough decision to choose what career route to take after school or college, but here, agricultural apprentice Taila Ward shares her experiences and tells why she chose not to study full-time.
Degree, apprenticeship or job, the idea of choosing what to do after you leave school or college is daunting.
Each route offers a spectrum of pros and cons, but the question is: how do you know which path is right for you?
An apprenticeship can offer you the best of both worlds should you want to gain a qualification without carrying on into full-time education. It can also provide you with a significant amount of practical experience, so you can get to know the role hands-on.
When it comes to agricultural apprenticeships, however, there is a vast variety available, from banking to becoming a mechanic.
With a passion for the outdoors and a drive to work in the world of finance, last year Taila Ward secured herself a place on the Barclays’ Agricultural Higher Apprenticeship Scheme.
With her father a financial adviser, Taila aims to become an agricultural relationship manager, so the apprenticeship provided the perfect opportunity to study and gain practical experience.
She says: “To be able to get the skills along with a degree is such a bonus for me.
“If I would have gone to university, I’d be spending three years just getting the qualification, whereas with the apprenticeship, I get to be out in the field too, which is one of my favourite things.”
Last year, Barclays took on five agricultural apprentices, and although many of Taila’s friends from sixth form have chosen to go to university, she feels that to work in the agricultural industry, it is vital to have that face-to-face contact with people from the community.
She says: “The value of being able to talk to people at markets or in their homes is second to none.
“You can build relationships and make a name for yourself. When I explain that I am an apprentice too, the farming community has a want to share its knowledge.”
The scheme means Taila takes one day a week to focus on her degree and the rest of the week is dedicated to training and on-the-job experience.
Taila does feel, however, that agriculture is overlooked when it comes to career choices.
But she is adamant that it is an industry quietly creeping ahead of its time, boasting ground-breaking technology and science, and has the potential to attract many more young minds.
Taila says: “It is such a misconception that having an agricultural job means you are just working on a farm.
“In my job, I have seen the amount of technology in farming and it is an open market. There are so many people with so many ideas.
“There is a want for new people to come into the industry.”