Home Career Change Training & Education Should I Take An Apprenticeship Over An Undergraduate Degree?
Should I Take An Apprenticeship Over An Undergraduate Degree?

Should I Take An Apprenticeship Over An Undergraduate Degree?

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The number of young people in higher education in the UK (traditional ‘red brick’ institutions such as universities, or polytechnic colleges) is high to say the least. We know that there are 2.3 million people currently studying, with more than a third of that being on an undergraduate basis. This means two things: there are less students going on to further their education post-graduation, and, in three years’ time, there will be at least another two million graduate job seekers for job seeking youths to contend with.

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The government recently announced plans for it to become the norm for school leavers to embark on either an apprenticeship or an undergraduate degree – with employer-led apprenticeships designed to be increasingly relevant and thorough. So, the question ceases to become whether you should pursue an apprenticeship or university education, and becomes more a case of which one you’ll take.

The Benefit Of Experience

Hands-on jobs that require specific skillsets and processes, such as engineering or joinery, are better suited to an apprenticeship than a degree particularly with the new schemes coming into place.

If you’re the type of person who likes to learn as you do, and take matters into your own hands, then an apprenticeship is the right move for you. A university education is a considerably more pragmatic education but your skillset will be more broadly arrayed, and serve you better in an office environment.

City & Guilds recently reported that 60% of employers value apprentice’s skills over those of graduates, which should give you an idea of where loyalties lie.

Down To Business

Taking an apprenticeship means that you forgo the coveted university lifestyle – which is more than just partying and pizza. Learning to manage yourself socially and financially is a massive part of the learning curve of a university education. You learn how to live independently, something apprenticeships aren’t concerned with, however, what you pass over in not taking a degree, you make up for in the working world.

Apprentices go straight into the working life, with all the experience and remuneration that comes with it. It pays off more in the long run and you also develop a genuine working confidence that cannot be simulated in an academic environment.

Improving All The Time

Apprenticeships are evolving for the future. The government recommends that all UK apprenticeship schemes ensure the proficiency of their participants have reasonable numeracy and literacy, as well as introducing grading to apprenticeships – so you can discern yourself to be the highest possible standard at your chosen profession. After all, more qualifications mean more things to impress a potential employer with.

All said and done, only you know for yourself if an apprenticeship is the right thing for you. Remember to seek as much advice as you can so you can make an informed decision. Visit the City & Guilds website to learn more about the opportunities currently available.


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Jordan Henderson Jordan Henderson writes for City & Guilds, one of the largest vocational qualification organisations in the UK. Here, he introduces a new infographic which asks: “Is an apprenticeship right for you?”