Former British Airways apprentice Emily Black defied the university expectations of her peers and teachers when she announced her intention to take the apprenticeship route to a high-flying career.

Even her college careers advisors were wrong-footed as they then started discussing apprenticeships in hairdressing or beauty.

Emily explained: “I’m very academic and all my family have been to university. But I was heading down that route because I thought I should.

“I realised I could progress to management by doing a Business Administration apprenticeship with a household-name company. Now my school friends have graduated and have been applying for graduate jobs, while I have already gained fantastic experience and a management role with IAG Cargo – which, like British Airways, is part of the International Airlines Group.”

During Emily’s two-year apprenticeship, she was able to undertake a placement in New York, helping to introduce self-service baggage drop-off to JFK Airport. “Then my friends were quite jealous, because they were sitting in a classroom at university,” she said.

Emily also became actively involved in fundraising for British Airway’s charity partnership with Comic Relief, Flying Start, which saw her travelling to South Africa to see how the money raised was helping children and alleviating poverty.

After Emily completed her Level 4 (Foundation degree-level) apprenticeship training with skills specialist Seetec Outsource, she secured a management role as Learning and Development Planning Executive for IAG Cargo.

She now oversees training for IAG Cargo employees, including their apprenticeship programme.

Enthusing about her apprenticeship, Emily said: “I had to complete essays and coursework, but I also gained so much experience and developed a strong professional network. I have learned so much more than you can learn in a classroom.”

Marnie Rose from Seetec Outsource said: “This year’s National Apprenticeship Week encourages young people and employers to ‘Look Beyond’ preconceptions and recognise the opportunities apprenticeships offer across a variety of industries and roles at levels up to degree level.”