Milton Keynes apprentice tells his apprenticeship story

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Parents and their children in the South East are divided over whether university or an apprenticeship is the best next step towards a successful career ahead of the release of A-Level and GCSE results, research commissioned by Amazon has revealed.

The study found 83% of parents in the South East believe an apprenticeship would provide their child with a good chance of getting a permanent job, compared with 67% for university. The YouGov survey also revealed 80% of parents in the South East thought an apprenticeship provided good earnings potential, compared with 77% for university education.

However, students from the South East disagree with parents, with 89% believing university provides good earning potential compared with 66% for apprenticeships. Degrees came out on top for providing a good opportunity to get a permanent job (87%), compared with an apprenticeship (73%).

Ben Morris shares his experience as an amazon apprentice (Photo: Submitted)
Ben Morris shares his experience as an amazon apprentice (Photo: Submitted)

For those who do choose an apprenticeship as their next career step, Amazon provides opportunities for upskilling and retraining for people of all ages, at all stages of their careers, offering schemes in a wide variety of areas including engineering, cyber security, broadcast production, and operations management.

One person who has taken the next step in his career with an apprenticeship is Ben Morris, an apprentice from the Amazon corporate office in London.

Ben Morris lives in Milton Keynes and is a Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability apprentice at Amazon in London. He has been with the company since July 2022, and his apprenticeship programme is due to finish in the summer of 2025.

After a year at Nottingham Trent University studying politics, Ben decided university wasn’t for him. He left his course in January 2022 and applied for the Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Apprenticeship at Amazon.

Speaking on the day-to-day of being an apprentice at Amazon, Ben said: “Within the apprenticeship programme, I split my time between working in the Amazon office and studying. At the start of the week, I set out what I want to achieve that week, send out my call invites, run through each project and assess priority levels. A big thing I have learned is how to be diligent with my own time and set out my work for the week at the beginning, because my work and priorities change all the time, which is exciting.”

“The breadth of work I have been involved in has been amazing for me – I never thought I would be handed so many opportunities at this early stage. I am only 21 but I am leading on volunteering projects as well as presenting data on sustainability initiatives in an engaging way.”

“There is such a good network of support around me – I am encouraged and supported to pursue opportunities that I am interested in. My manager is very appreciative of the unique nature of my apprentice role and understands that I am learning on the job and at the very beginning of my career in sustainability.”

On why he chose an apprenticeship with Amazon, Ben added: “Amazon scored very highly on company rankings for having an accepting, inclusive and fun workforce. I could tell they were putting money, time and effort into developing young people and I knew if I was to get the role, many doors would be opened to me. The scope of opportunities you are afforded is unique at Amazon and you get to work on a wide variety of projects with diverse teams of people.”

“The most important thing I have learned so far is to be a sponge – every meeting and project brings with it a host of learning opportunities, so I have learned to be open to absorbing all of the information I can.”

Ben has some advice for anyone considering an apprenticeship: “Make sure you research the company you are applying to work for and the area you are interested in. For me, that was corporate social responsibility – this new and emerging area was exciting to me, and I made sure to reference any relevant initiatives during my application process. Companies and interviewers really appreciate that.”

The Amazon apprenticeship scheme launched in 2013 and, to celebrate the 10th anniversary, Amazon is partnering with Apprentice Nation, a career development and entertainment platform, to produce an event featuring Cat Burns, the BRIT-nominated, double-platinum-selling South London artist. The mentoring event will support students as they decide the next step on their career path. More than 200 people will be invited to the event in September where Cat will play an exclusive, one-off gig.

Cat Burns is a BRIT-nominated, double-platinum-selling South London artist. Cat said: “I think it’s really important for people to be proud of themselves, whatever their situation or background. There’s a space for everyone in this life - you just need to be able to carve out your own path. Through my music, I want to keep on inspiring others to create their own journey in life and to shape their future. Everyone has gifts.”

She added: “Apprentice Nation offers youth the opportunity to do this and I’m excited to be performing with them and also to celebrate ten years of Amazon Apprenticeships.”

Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education Robert Halfon said: “It is brilliant to see that apprenticeships are now widely recognised as offering great career prospects, particularly amongst parents. Amazon’s decade-long commitment to apprenticeships has been instrumental in this progress, putting apprenticeships at the heart of the business and giving over 5,500 people the opportunity to earn while they learn the skills they need to succeed.

“Demand for apprenticeships is rising, but these findings show that we must continue our work to ensure that apprenticeships and traditional degrees are on an equal footing. To help more young people make informed decisions about their future, we are working with UCAS to expand their service so students can search and apply for apprenticeships alongside degrees and continuing to promote them through our Get the Jump campaign.”

Amazon’s UK Country Manager, John Boumphrey, said: “Young people and their families are having to navigate really complex decisions at this time of year. That’s why we’re providing information, guidance, and support throughout the year, as well as our special career mentoring event with Cat Burns. It’s all designed to help them decide on the best path for them and their future.

“I am excited that we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of apprenticeships at Amazon, and also offer many opportunities for people to join us in their first job outside of university. We offer all kinds of jobs for all kinds of people reflecting the range of skills and abilities in communities across the UK and look forward to supporting young people to build successful careers.”

Explore more about Amazon apprenticeships here.

Explore more About Amazon’s student programmes here.