Apprenticeships are being celebrated as part of national apprenticeship week from March 5 to March 9.

The week long event is aimed to encourage people into using apprenticeships as a launch pad for a career.

One man who did that was Matt Elder, who now works at St James Place Wealth Management in Cirencester. Matt returned Mayling School where he attended sixth form to give a talk to students about he went down the apprenticeship route.

Matt initially explored the option of studying at University but discovered there were plenty of advantages of gaining an apprenticeship and getting his foot through the door.

"Like most my peers I went through the process of applying to university," he said. "I received offers from all five universities for Business Management but as year 13 progressed I grew concerned that I'd study for studying’s sake – especially with the costs associated with university now.

I was keen to get into the workplace and for any studying I was doing to relate more directly to a job.

"My apprenticeship means I can relate what I am studying to the real work environment and I am learning the way organisations work and about the finance world whilst surrounded by experts in the field.

"This is also building networking opportunities for my future career and I am developing my ‘soft’ skills such as communication and team working."

Apprenticeships give the opportunity for students who have just finished college or sixth form to earn while they learn whilst still being able to obtain the relevant qualifications alongside their work.

"The apprentices are given a study day each week and I am working towards a professional qualification, which graduates joining the company after university would still also have to do," Matt explained. "I’m earning a competitive salary with employee benefits such as health insurance, reduced gym membership and access to Sharesave schemes and I will not have the financial debt with which graduates leave university.

"The application and selection process was not easy but I am really glad I went for it – it is great to be earning and learning."

Stephen Farr, Head of 6th form at Marling School, said: "We encourage our 6th formers to explore all options open to them, including apprenticeships and going straight into the world of work.

"It is encouraging to hear how former students, such as Matt, are thriving in a work environment whilst also gaining valuable skills and qualifications.