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University degrees v apprenticeship schemes

Published: Friday, 10 February 2012   Category: All Graduate job news

With university fees rising generally and graduate job vacancies becoming increasingly difficult to locate, it is unsurprising that the latest official figures show that more people are applying for apprenticeships over university places.

Some will argue that the graduate unemployment level is caused by UK universities simply producing too many graduates, or possibly offering degrees that are questionable in terms of their quality and relevance to the UK economic needs.

The National Audit Office Apprenticeship Programme increased by approximately 140% between the 2006/07 and 2010/11 academic years. In addition, the coalition wants to see 400,000 apprenticeships start every year in the UK by 2014-15— this would represent a significant rise from last year’s figure of 279,900.

To achieve that goal, the organisation is offering thousands of pounds in incentives to encourage smaller firms – those with fewer than 50 staff - to take young Brits on as apprentices.

Pros and cons

University degrees are always likely to carry more weight and prestige than apprenticeships. However, such is the current state of the graduate jobs market that people are increasingly waking up to the fact that it might be a better idea to take the apprenticeship route over the conventional degree route into work.

People are, understandably, increasingly reluctant to acquire a large amount of debt on their way to a qualification which is not necessarily guaranteed to lead to employment.

Apprenticeships increasingly offer a more realistic chance of a job and, with current unemployment levels continuing to rise, it is understandable that people are viewing this route as the more favourable option.

What do you think? Are you considering choosing an apprenticeship course over a university place? How would this decision affect your chosen career path? Is the lack of graduate vacancies the main driving force in your decision?




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