Apprenticeships: a Worthwhile Alternative to Costly Higher-Education?
Firstly, I would like to point out that despite being called notgoingtouni we are not actually anti-university. We just believe that there are many other ways to achieve career success which are of equal value. Our message to those who want a good qualification without substantial debt is simply to explore your options before you write off your goals. There are ways to get a degree for free, such as sponsored degrees, whilst distance learning offers the chance of attending a full time course for a fraction of the cost. But by far the most popular option with people who contact us is Apprenticeships. Rightly so in our opinion!
Apprenticeships are available in a wide range of sectors; from social media to project management, IT to horse racing. This often comes as a surprise to people who incorrectly assume that vocational routes are limited to hairdressing or plumbing. They offer a great alternative to university, you get paid while you are learning and with around 90% of people being in work or further training upon completion of their apprenticeship, we feel they are a great option for anyone who wants to know that their qualification will genuinely improve their employment prospects.
In addition to being a debt free way to get a recognised qualification, apprenticeships also add to your earning potential. There’s the often quoted statistic about degrees increasing your salary prospects over your career, but most people seem to be unaware that the same is true of apprenticeships. A report carried out by the University of Sheffield revealed that earnings will be an estimated £105,000 more over your working life if you complete a level 3 apprenticeship and around £73,000 at level 2. When you factor in the lack of debt while gaining your qualification and the likelihood of being in a job at the end of your study, you would think that this is something that would be promoted to young people. Wouldn’t it? Sadly not…
Students often tell us that they have not been advised about apprenticeships (or any alternative to university for that matter) during career guidance at school and there have been several occasions when amazed young people have advised us that they didn’t think apprenticeships existed any more with the only reference to them appearing in history lessons!
We believe career advice is currently failing many school leavers by not offering them information on the full range of alternative qualifications available or helping them to understand how these options can be just as useful as traditional academic routes to get into a chosen career.
There are many dedicated, hard-working teachers and advisors out there doing their best to help students with often limited resources and time available. We know this because they sign up to our email newsletters to stay ahead of the latest opportunities and invite us to attend career events in an effort to provide a balanced overview of options after school or college. However, there is still much to do in order to ensure all young people are able to make an informed decision about their options after school or college.
This year apprenticeships at levels 6 and 7 (the equivalent to a bachelors and masters degree) will officially be recognised for the first time. This will hopefully help achieve parity in the perceived value of vocational learning compared with purely academic routes. To help showcase the range of apprenticeship options at all levels, our Guide to Apprenticeships and Vocational Training is available free to download and reproduce from the website from 11 March 2013 to coincide with National Apprenticeship Week.