Student or Apprentice?

With many graduates saddled with enormous debt before they even begin work, would an apprenticeship prove a better option? RecruitsME weighs up the pros and cons of University vs Apprenticeship.

Ah, Uni days…ooer Uni nights! Many of us, who were lucky enough to attend university look back at our time as students with fondness and, perhaps, feel a little bit of jealousy for those still there, or about to go. Apart from the happy memories of long holidays, cheap booze and wild “socialising” there is a parting gift from university that we take with us and carry for years – student debt.

Attending university is not a cheap option; the course alone costs up to £9,000 per year. On top of that you have living expenses, rent, books – oh and that cheap booze soon adds up! It is reckoned that, on average, graduates from universities in England carry the largest debt of any graduate in the English-speaking world: around £44,000.

So, will the new apprenticeships help? You certainly wouldn’t have to worry about how you are going to pay that huge debt and you would earn while you learn. It might not be a fantastic amount if you are an apprentice under 19, the national minimum wage is only £3.40, but when you reach 19 you will be paid as an adult. Many employers pay their apprentices more than the minimum wage; if you are prepared to put in the effort, more often than not it will be recognised and rewarded.

Many graduates leaving university with a degree find the competition for jobs is fierce, they struggle to find something suitable because, in many cases, they lack work experience. The competition for jobs is less as a school-leaver and there are a wide range of apprenticeships to choose from. The hands-on practical experience is invaluable and looks great on your CV along with the nationally recognised qualification you earn. On top of that there is the opportunity to attend college part-time as part of your course and you can study up to degree level.

 Apprenticeship educational levels:

Name Equivalent Educational Level
Intermediate 2 5 GCSE passes at grades A* to C
Advanced 3 2 A level passes
Higher 4,5,6 and 7 Foundation degree and above
Degree 6 and 7 Bachelor’s or master’s degree

(source: Gov.uk)

Choosing an apprenticeship is a great option if you are sure what career path you want to take. Many young people are undecided where they see their future; sometimes even after graduation where a great deal take up careers that have very little to do with the course they took at university. Not all careers are open to apprentices, for some you will still need a degree just to start with. This is especially true if your calling is medicine or law for example.

If you need a degree, you want to enjoy that whole uni experience and you don’t mind the financial implications then apply for university and enjoy it. On the other hand, if you know what you want to do and you want to build a great foundation for your career then you should seriously consider an apprenticeship.

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