Fiona Stilwell is managing director of Activate Apprenticeships, which is part of Activate Learning.

The group runs education centres including City of Oxford College, and is currently celebrating National Apprenticeship Week.

Apprenticeships have changed and there are now more opportunities than ever for those considering their options, especially young people.

Of course, there are still the same amazing apprenticeships for those interested in the established trades.

However, nowadays, there is such a variety of industries to choose from - there has never been a better time for those who want to take a more practical, work-based approach to their education.

Apprenticeships offer industry-standard training in hundreds of sectors including business, human resources, engineering, health and social care and education.

Successful ex-apprentices include Gordon Ramsay (catering), David Beckham (football) and Sir Terry Matthews (engineering) - these are certainly some impressive alumni.

I think an apprenticeship appeals to so many as it’s a genuine full-time job, allowing the apprentice to earn as they learn, gaining valuable skills and professional knowledge in a specific industry role.

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These are high-quality and structured workplace training programmes, allowing apprentices to develop the skills employers need and want from day one.

I understand that an apprenticeship at 16 can be daunting.

You’re stepping into the workplace to continue your education, and that’s a big move, especially if you’ve never had any experience of work before.

However, for those looking to enhance their careers or perhaps even move in a new direction, starting an apprenticeship is a great option at any age, irrelevant of experience or background.

Apprentices work towards an industry-recognised qualification and because of the way they learn on the job, no two days are the same.

Of course, there are still classroom-based elements to an apprenticeship, but this is all helping apprentices work towards their qualification and help form part of the overall evaluation.

I believe that many find this sense of responsibility and freedom in their apprenticeship a unique and exciting experience.

The other benefit of an apprenticeship for many young people, is starting their employment earlier than their peers, giving them a chance flourish and succeed quickly in their chosen careers.

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Many of their peers who decide on the university route will be three, four or maybe five years behind them in their careers and will come into the workplace with massive debts hanging over their heads.

Perhaps I am biased given my background in apprenticeships, but I am always baffled by people who think that not going to university is going to harm their career progression.

At the end of the day, university isn’t for everyone, and when you consider the average university debt is around £35,000 on graduation (according to the IFS), I think apprenticeships will become increasingly attractive to savvy young people.

An apprenticeship sits alongside the university route and is a viable alternative which is offered up to degree-level.

These programmes come with no debt, no tuition fees and no student loans, allowing young apprentices to be a step ahead of their university counterparts financially as the government funds training up to the age of 25.

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Then there are all the other intangible benefits you get - developing your networking skills as you meet other industry professionals, picking up skills from them that aren’t on a curriculum, gaining work experience across all areas of your business.

This puts apprentices a step ahead, allowing them to quickly put their newfound skills and knowledge into practice as they gain confidence in their working environment and earn an increased salary on completion of their programme.

Incredible support and guidance is also available, as apprentices are lucky to work alongside all levels of seniority in their business and have regular meetings with performance coaches to ensure they are on track.

So, if a person wants to be paid to earn their qualification, in a real working and supportive environment with an abundance of industries to choose from, an apprenticeship may just be the right career choice for them.