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John Baumback, Group Managing Director - Seetec

Apprenticeships have been responsible for catapulting some of the world’s most famous faces into their chosen careers. From creatives, to sport stars and fashion designers, successful apprentices are leading the way around the globe, and with university fees at their highest ever, it is easy to see why so many people are choosing to learn on the job.

Through hard work, apprentices can make it to the top of their field and don’t need an expensive degree to do it. With the rise of student debt and the disappointment in the university lifestyle, it should not come as a surprise that employment and skills specialist Seetec Outsource is finding that more and more are now choosing to take on an apprenticeship to get their dream job instead.

One of the most famous artists there is, Leonardo Di Vinci, who started out as an apprentice painter, but in more recent times famous apprentices include chef Jamie Oliver, fashion designer Stella McCartney, actor Sir Ian McKellan, Manchester United player and manager Sir Alex Ferguson and hairdresser John Frieda.

In 2018/19 the number of HE students stood at 2,383,970, an increase of 2% from 2017/18*, meanwhile apprentices enrolling with apprenticeship provider Seetec Outsource rose by 28.5%.

Apprenticeships give real-life skills that are invaluable, both in and out of the workplace, preparing people much better for the real world. Apprenticeship programmes also empower organisations to find, recruit and develop people from different backgrounds, who otherwise might not have been able to go into further education, without these people companies lose the diversity that helps to drive them forwards, encouraging greater innovation and creativity.


Jamie Oliver, one of the UK’s most famous chefs and TV personalities started as an apprentice after he gained an NVQ in Home Economics. He worked at a number of restaurants in London as an apprentice chef and is now a hugely successful entrepreneur.

Sir Ian McKellan completed a three-year apprenticeship at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. This job was the first acting job he received and fuelled his later success in life.

George Clarke, architect and presenter of ‘Restoration Man’, ‘Amazing Spaces’ and ‘Shed of the Year’, began his career in architecture through an apprenticeship he was offered at the age of sixteen.

David Beckham began his football career by doing an apprenticeship in the football Youth Training Scheme before his global sporting fame. Before retiring, he played for Manchester United, Preston North End, Real Madrid, Milan, LA Galaxy, Paris Saint-Germain and the England national team.

Karen Millen the designer, entrepreneur and charity campaigner, began her career selling t-shirts to friends while still at Medway College of Design in Rochester, Kent, where she was following a City & Guilds course in Fashion She sold her company in 2004 with 130 stores, trading across 25 countries.

Figures from the Department of Education’s Further Skills Index have shown that apprenticeships are contributing year-on-year to the total value added to the economy**. The figures increased from 36% of the total value-added in 2012/13 to an impressive 58% in 2017/18.

Apprenticeships not only teach people the skills needed for their chosen career, but they help them to get a foot in the door within a real business, especially important in careers where there is a lot of competition such as sports or fashion.

Many students entering creative careers such as PR & Marketing, or Journalism are still expected to undertake unpaid internships once they finish their degree, meaning on some occasions not doing the degree and working their way up while learning on the job can be more beneficial.

With more funding going into apprenticeship schemes, this generation of learners can consider their options, rather than simply entering into university and risking potential debt. The choices for young people now are broader than ever making it even more important to research and find the best route to an exciting avenue for education to help increase future career prospects.

John Baumback, Group Managing Director at Seetec started his career as an apprentice at Seetec in 1984.  At the age of 16, Baumback started an apprenticeship at Seetec, training in Cobol computer programming, before applying successfully for a permanent position as admin assistant after 9 months.

Today, Seetec has expanded throughout the UK and Ireland and employs 2,500 staff. The company provides apprenticeships and training on behalf of thousands of employers including market leaders in aviation, media and logistics as well as small and medium sized enterprises.

Speaking on apprenticeships, John Baumback, Group Managing Director at Seetec said: “I still remember the day I saw the apprenticeship at Seetec advertised, I jumped at the chance to apply and it’s funny to now look back and see how it changed my life. Apprenticeships change lives each day, equipping young people and adults with the skills they need to fulfil their career ambitions, they are an incredible gateway into many professions and I’m proud to be in a position where I can continue to champion them and develop tomorrow’s leaders.”


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