Amazon Dunstable apprentice tells her apprenticeship story ahead of A-Level and GCSE results

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Apprenticeships vs University: Research reveals an East of England generational split as students disagree with their parents ahead of the release of A-Level and GCSE Results

Parents and their children in the East of England are divided over whether university or an apprenticeship is the best next step towards a successful career ahead of the release of A-Level and GCSE results, research commissioned by Amazon has revealed.

The study found 87% of parents in the East of England believe an apprenticeship would provide their child with a good chance of getting a permanent job, compared with 63% for university. The YouGov survey also revealed 80% of parents in the East of England thought an apprenticeship provided good earnings potential, compared with 72% for university education.

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However, students from the East of England disagree with parents, with 82% believing university provides good earning potential compared with 80% for apprenticeships. However, apprenticeships came out on top for providing a good opportunity to get a permanent job (82%), compared with a degree (76%).

Shagufta Shahzad shares her apprenticeship storyShagufta Shahzad shares her apprenticeship story
Shagufta Shahzad shares her apprenticeship story

For those who do choose an apprenticeship as their next career step, Amazon provides opportunities for upskilling and retraining for people of all ages, at all stages of their careers, offering schemes in a wide variety of areas including engineering, cyber security, broadcast production, and operations management.

One person who has taken the next step in her career with an apprenticeship is Shagufta Shahzad, an apprentice from Amazon in Dunstable.

Shagufta Shahzad from Dunstable works at the Amazon fulfilment centre in the town as a Learning and Development Trainer and Print on Demand team member and has completed a qualification in Business Improvement Techniquesthrough the Amazon Apprenticeship programme. Shagufta started the apprenticeship degree in 2019, completing the programme in 2020.

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Before joining Amazon, Shagufta worked as a quality manager in a hospital in Pakistan. After moving to Dunstable, she decided to visit Amazon through the fulfilment centre tours programme and was intrigued at the technology on show and the progression opportunities available at the company. Following her tour, she applied for a position with the company, and soon after, joined the Amazon Apprenticeship programme.

Shagufta explains what she enjoys the most about her role. “I love the pace of change and the sheer number of opportunities available for growth,” she said. “Before working at Amazon, I was a full-time housewife but when I studied back home in Pakistan, I was a quality manager in a hospital. As part of that role, I had previously studied kaizen and lead management, so when I saw that the Amazon Apprenticeship programme offered this, I was very excited to study the topic again. Every day in my role I am happy to see how changes and improvements are implemented across the business. This really motivates me to keep growing as I’m always learning something new.”

To anyone considering joining the Amazon Apprenticeship programme, Shagufta said: “An apprenticeship is all about earning while learning. Use your initiative and don’t depend solely on other people to teach you things. You must ask questions if you don’t understand things and want to learn more. Everybody should take a chance on an apprenticeship at Amazon as it gives you a completely new point of view on life, both inside and outside work.”

The Amazon apprenticeship scheme launched in 2013 and, to celebrate the 10th anniversary, Amazon is partnering with Apprentice Nation, a career development and entertainment platform, to produce an event featuring Cat Burns, the BRIT-nominated, double-platinum-selling South London artist. The mentoring event will support students as they decide the next step on their career path. More than 200 people will be invited to the event in September where Cat will play an exclusive, one-off gig.

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Cat Burns is a BRIT-nominated, double-platinum-selling South London artist. Cat said: “I think it’s really important for people to be proud of themselves, whatever their situation or background. There’s a space for everyone in this life - you just need to be able to carve out your own path. Through my music, I want to keep on inspiring others to create their own journey in life and to shape their future. Everyone has gifts.”

She added: “Apprentice Nation offers youth the opportunity to do this and I’m excited to be performing with them and also to celebrate ten years of Amazon Apprenticeships.”

Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education Robert Halfon said: “It is brilliant to see that apprenticeships are now widely recognised as offering great career prospects, particularly amongst parents. Amazon’s decade-long commitment to apprenticeships has been instrumental in this progress, putting apprenticeships at the heart of the business and giving over 5,500 people the opportunity to earn while they learn the skills they need to succeed.

“Demand for apprenticeships is rising, but these findings show that we must continue our work to ensure that apprenticeships and traditional degrees are on an equal footing. To help more young people make informed decisions about their future, we are working with UCAS to expand their service so students can search and apply for apprenticeships alongside degrees and continuing to promote them through our Get the Jump campaign.”

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Amazon’s UK Country Manager, John Boumphrey, said: “Young people and their families are having to navigate really complex decisions at this time of year. That’s why we’re providing information, guidance, and support throughout the year, as well as our special career mentoring event with Cat Burns. It’s all designed to help them decide on the best path for them and their future.

“I am excited that we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of apprenticeships at Amazon, and also offer many opportunities for people to join us in their first job outside of university. We offer all kinds of jobs for all kinds of people reflecting the range of skills and abilities in communities across the UK and look forward to supporting young people to build successful careers.”

Explore more about Amazon apprenticeships here.

Explore more About Amazon’s student programmes here.