WITH the astronomical rise of university fees in 2012, apprenticeships have since increasingly become a viable option for young people today.

It is no wonder the idea of gaining a good career by undergoing practical training and the ability to earn qualifications without being launched into debt appeals to so many.

I however represent a growing number of older apprentices choosing to follow this route. I am 24-years-old and have a degree, not what most people picture when the word apprentice comes to mind.

The theme of National Apprentice Week this year is to showcase how apprenticeships work. The answer is, they are all very different.

To dispel some of the myths and in an effort to share more about what apprenticeships are, I spoke to two apprentices in vastly different roles to find out more about what they do. As an apprentice myself, it is only right I also discuss more about what I do and why I chose this route to the career I want.

My role is of apprentice multimedia reporter at the Andover Advertiser. I started in January and this week’s edition is my fourth since joining the team.

What appealed to me about this role was the balance of practical on-the-job experience and studying for a qualification that will set me in good stead for my career.

In the few weeks I have been here at the paper, I have already seen my skills improve vastly.

Many may assume apprentices will only be entrusted with basic tasks, such as making the tea, which however is far from true. I have written lead features, conducted interviews, produced multimedia content and reviewed events.

Getting a practical masterclass like this is invaluable. To be entrusted with responsibility and to learn and progress as I go is no doubt the best way to secure a future in journalism.

I am studying for an NCTJ qualification with Darlington College as part of my apprenticeship.

The NCTJ is the qualification that editors look for when recruiting a trainee journalist. Units I will be studying, such as media law and regulation, public affairs and the dreaded shorthand, all equip wannabe hacks with the skills needed to excel.

The way my apprenticeship works allows me to maximise both the working and studying aspects involved.

I work at the paper four days every week. I am treated like any other member of staff. I have my own patch to report on and have been given various responsibilities to look after, for example the leisure section. That leaves me with one day a week for self-directed study, guided by the programme co-ordinators at Darlington College.

As the college is far away, I visit every few months for two days of courses, led by experienced industry professionals.

At this early stage I remain positive about the impact choosing to do an apprenticeship will have on my career. I have to say, when I was of college age and weighed down by the heavy question what are your next steps? I wish apprenticeships were more readily available and as varying as they are now.

Instead I felt pressured into going down the university route, standard for the majority of students at my college.

At the time I believed if I didn’t go to university, I would fall behind my peers and would never be able to contend in a competitive job market. Now in my 20s, I have found that not to be the case.

Yes I enjoyed my time at university but in hindsight if I had other options I would have likely followed a different route.

As part of the first year of students facing the astronomical fee rises to a maximum of £9,000 per year, graduating with all the debt I had accumulated in just three years was a daunting way to enter the professional world. It is nice to know there are other options available now to those who face the same choice as I did.So over the next year and a half I will be working hard at the Andover Advertiser, no doubt enjoying everyday on the job.

There is so much to learn and each day brings its own rewards and challenges. I hope you, our readers, will enjoy seeing my reporting progress over the coming months.

After contemplating my own experiences, I also enjoyed talking to two young apprentices to learn about what their experiences have been like, as you will in this weeks paper and online over the coming days.