Be More Ambassadors play an important role in helping us to provide practical and current advice about apprenticeships. Our Ambassador network includes companies and apprentices who are on hand to describe their experiences of their apprenticeship journey. This article highlights great career advice from a Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service Apprentice who is in the news at the moment.

In an article, published in Liverpool World, Jemma Hughes shows how university isn’t the only route to a successful career and reminds students that A-Level results aren’t everything.  In August, many students awaited their A-Level results with a view to getting to university. They were the first to sit their exams since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A crackdown on grade inflation meant that many did not get into their first choice university and found themselves in a highly competitive clearing system.

For many, the idea of not getting the grades they had hoped for caused great stress and fear about the future. However, attending university isn’t the only way to achieve a degree and have a successful career. Across the UK, there are 150 degree-level apprenticeships across a range of subjects and 650 A-Level equivalents.

Jemma Hughes, aged 26, is in the process of completing a Level 3 operational fire fighter apprenticeship at Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. She is proud to be part of an emergency service which has the second largest number of female firefighters in the country. “It wasn’t an easy process, and my fitness and agility were tested throughout,” she recalls. “I remember being the only woman on the assessment day.”

Jemma made it with 19 others and says no two days are the same. In just one week, Jemma dealt with grass fires, a car crash and a hotel fire. Getting to work at one of the busiest stations in the area has been a great learning experience and enabled her to get lots of support from other colleagues. When asked if she would recommend an apprenticeship, Jemma replied, “It’s completely changed my life. I only wish I had known about it sooner. I started down a traditional university pathway studying forensic science, which I hated, and ended up dropping out soon after starting. I wish I had been told of other opportunities out there and it’s something I’m passionate about changing.”

Referred to as T-Levels, Level 3 apprenticeships are equivalent to A-Levels and combine classroom learning with on-the-job training. A preferred option for those who prefer practical-based learning, T-Levels often involve coursework and assessed work placement, rather than exams, being ideal for students who struggle with exam stress. There are tons of places across Merseyside offering apprenticeships, including the City of Liverpool College and Hugh Baird College.

If you would like further information on apprenticeships and how to apply for them, talk to the Apprenticeship Support by Be More Team. The team is funded by the European Social Fund & LCR Strategic Investment Fund and provides impartial information and advice on apprenticeships across the Liverpool City Region.