Making the leap from an academic environment to the world of work can be difficult, particularly as not many subjects have a direct link to a career path. That’s why it is important to think outside the box when it comes to taking your next steps.

Apprenticeships provide the perfect stepping stone to make the transition from the classroom to the boardroom as smooth as possible. You get to experience a real working environment and train for a nationally-recognised qualification at the same time.

Which sector to choose

When it comes to deciding which sector to choose, it is a good idea to look at what opportunities are out there.

The Quarterly Apprenticeship Index revealed a 24 per cent increase in vacancies for apprenticeships between August and October 2013.

Official figures show the most popular sector for apprenticeships is business, administration and law with 160,410 posts filled in 2012/2013. This was followed by apprenticeships in health, public services and care (123,370), with retail and commercial enterprise schemes coming in third with 101,240 positions.

While this shows the popularity of these sectors, it is also worth considering there is therefore going to be a lot more competition for jobs.

In comparison, there were 14,120 apprenticeships in the Information and Communication Technology sector.

IT sector employs thousands across the UK
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This is good news, as the industry in currently very much in a boom phase, which means there could even be a skills shortage that your expertise as an apprentice would help to fill.

According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 720,000 people employed in the sector throughout the UK in March 2013.

In Wales alone, it is estimated that 3,100 new IT recruits are needed each year just to meet existing demand.

A career in IT can be varied

Remember that you shouldn’t discount a traineeship in this area just because you don’t have knowledge of the sector.

The majority of apprenticeships are taken on by school-leavers with little or no experience of the workplace.

You should also consider it even if you haven’t studied the subject at GCSE or A-level. IT can involve working in a variety of industries and roles – from admin to healthcare – and is therefore suitable for candidates with a wide range of skills.

If you are good at problem-solving and take a methodical approach to work, you would probably be an ideal candidate for an apprenticeship in IT.

Likewise, if you spend your spare-time playing with computer games and reading tech-based websites, you will no doubt be excited about working in an industry you are passionate about.

Expanding role of technology in companies

Technology is experiencing its biggest boom since the dotcom era and therefore jobs in the sector are becoming increasingly interesting, challenging and varied.

London’s Silicon Roundabout has become the third-largest technology startup hub in the world, with companies including Cisco, Facebook, Google and Intel having a presence there.

This is great for the IT industry in the UK and for you as a would-be apprentice. It is worth remembering there are placements on offer throughout the country, so you are not limited to accepting an apprenticeship in the capital.