An apprenticeship can help you escape—or avoid altogether—the low-income cycle that disproportionately affects underrepresented people. In addition to placing you on a level playing field with university graduates and others with advanced degrees, and providing a space where the voices of underrepresented and diverse communities are respected, amplified and seen, an apprenticeship also provides the tools to realise social mobility.
Contents

What is the cycle of low income?

What is social mobility?

Why is socioeconomic status important?

How can an apprenticeship help achieve upward social mobility?

What is the cycle of low income?

If you grow up within a family (or other social unit) that seems to find it impossible to reach beyond its low-income bracket, it’s likely that you are experiencing what’s known as the cycle of poverty or a poverty trap.

People stuck in the cycle of low income tend to lack the resources to help them escape it. Those resources include financial capital, education and useful social connections. As a result, they tend to move between financially disabling circumstances, which compounds the problem over time—often over generations.

Apprenticeships have been identified, by the European Commission for example, as a way of breaking the poverty cycle by offering a route to advanced income for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

What is social mobility?

Social mobility can be loosely defined as a movement that changes the status of a person or group, enabling them to move up—or down—the social and/or economic ladder. This movement can take various forms, as people often experience situational changes throughout their lives.

Upward mobility is an important factor in establishing not only a robust economy, but a vibrant and civilised society. Whilst a respectable career has long been considered one of the paths to upward social mobility, such careers are extremely difficult to achieve without quality primary, secondary, further and higher education.

An apprenticeship furnishes the necessary tools required to find a great career while also providing valuable, continued education beyond the work environment.

Why is socioeconomic status important?

Upward social mobility—in other words, being able to earn more money and escape the cycle of low income—increases what’s known as your socioeconomic status. This is vital to a healthy economy. Recent research has shown that underrepresented people who complete apprenticeships can earn the same—and in some cases more—than their more advantaged peers.

Economic freedom earned in a viable and fulfilling career has many advantages, of course, such as increased buying power, freedom from debt, and personal autonomy. But there are other, even more important benefits of upward social mobility, such as improved mental health and well-being. Various studies have explored the many links between debt and stress. For example, a recent study found that 97% of people with debt said they'd be happier in general without debt. A stable career is one of the surest routes out of debt.

How can an apprenticeship help achieve upward social mobility?

For a workforce to remain strong and resilient, it must rely on a diverse pool of employees, each of whom contributes not only their work and their time, but also their voice. The qualities employers look for are often the very qualities that are provided by experience in an apprenticeship. Apprentices work their way up and acquire a wide range of skills that lead to creative decision making and efficient problem-solving—skills that easily translate to the modern work environment.

By earning as you learn, you also help to more broadly stimulate the economy by spending income that would otherwise be spent on tuition and other university-related expenses on building your life. Additionally, while many of your more well-off peers are struggling to pay off student debts, you’ll be working from a clean slate, free of the baggage that can affect self-esteem, physical health and overall well-being.

Looking for something else to read? Take a look at our article on 6 Female Apprentices Making Strides at Nestlé.


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