‘Dad, I don’t want to go to college anymore, I want to do an apprenticeship instead.’
They were the 16 words uttered from my 16 year olds mouth less than 4 weeks ago that have sent my wife and I on a journey that has opened our eyes to a whole new world, whilst getting us to deeply explore our own values and beliefs.
Let me take you back to that day. It was less than a week before my youngest son (Charlie) GCSE’s were due to finish. We were all looking forward to getting them over with, enjoying the long summer ahead and getting ready to start college in September. Then everything changed.
Now I have always believed that the route to success is school, university, a bit of travelling, take a number of jobs for a few years whilst working out what you want to really do and then getting stuck in.
So after I got over my shock/anger/disappointment that Charlie didn’t want to take this route I suddenly realised I had been making the cardinal sin. Which was that I was imposing my values onto him regardless of what was best from him. And do you know what was really strange is that the overriding emotion after that, was one of relief. Relief that he was taking control of his future, and that we were not going to have push him through the next 2 years.
We then got onto researching and learning about what apprenticeships were available to him and I have been nothing but impressed with the options, support and organisation of the whole apprenticeship route for 16-18 year olds.
Within 1 week of registering Charlie in the process, our eyes were opened to the options he had; sales, supply, office based, trades, HR, public sector, telecoms to name a few. He has already been on 6 interviews, been offered 2 positions, and enrolled in a college that will support him through the process. In 2 years he could have a level 3 qualification and 2 years work experience which would not only make him more employable but also open up the opportunity of going to university if he ever wanted to go down that route.
What have a learned, the world is changing, there are many routes to success these days, and that your responsibility as a parent is to help guide your children to fulfil their potential, not matter how far that is from your own preconceptions.