Demand for apprenticeships grows

Campaigner Manager of Not Going to Uni and apprentice, Tamara Hassan

By David Hennessy

Increasing numbers of students who score well in their A levels are rejecting going to university and opting to learn on the job instead. Thousands of teenagers who received their results last week are snapping up the growing number of apprenticeships on offer so they can earn while they train for a career.

According to the National Apprenticeship Service, there are about 20,000 apprenticeships on offer in a range of occupations from law and accountancy to IT and journalism.

This increase coincides with a survey that shows students struggling to make ends meet as the cost of going to university rises. According to Lloyds TSB’s third annual student finance report, almost one in five full-time students say they do not have enough money to get through month by month, , and 38 per cent say they are only just making ends meet. More than half the students surveyed (58 per cent) said they would end up with debts of over £10,000 by the time they finished their courses. Around half say they have had to take part-time jobs to ease the financial pressures – with 29 per cent of these saying it has a negative impact on studies.

The increasing popularity of apprenticeships among young people also comes after business research showed that employers find apprentices 15% more employable than young people with other qualifications. In the study, employers ranked higher apprentices as the most employable of all young people – above those with degrees.

Spencer Mehlman, Managing Director of Not Going to Uni

“University is a great deal,” begins Spencer Mehlman, Managing Director of when talking to The Irish World on Friday August 16. “Statistics say you can get £150,000 more over a working career. However, if it costs you £53,000 then it needs to be justified, especially when a University of Sheffield surveys suggest that apprentices earn £105,000 more over their career as well. One report out today suggested that 40% of people phoning a careers helpline were interested in other options than university after their results. This is incredible considering that practically no one is told about these other options, our own research showed that over 60% of young people never heard of any other route than university. That’s a scandal, when the debt and dubious employability of a degree make them a tough choice.”

Spencer then points out that his website and service is not anti- third level education but rather more in favour of exploring all options: “Despite the name we’re supporters of universities and degrees, we just think that young people need to know about every option open to them after they finish school or college. When so many positive options are out there – everything from working and doing professional qualifications, to taking a gap year or doing a qualification via distance learning – it’s a great time to investigate your is the perfect place to do that.”

19 year old Tamara Hassan, Campaign Manager with, is a Level 3 Customer Service apprentice who desires a career in events management. When asked why he chose this method of training, she tells The Irish World: “It’s definitely the sort of person I am. I’m not just going to sit around for four years at uni when I could just get straight into work and learn on the job.”

Tamara has seen at first hand how costly university education is and how its qualifications still leave graduates with a difficult task to find employment: “One of my brothers actually went to university and when he came out, he did find it quite hard to get a job whereas my other brother didn’t and he went down the job route and he got where he wanted to be a lot quicker without having to go to uni and he’s not got the debts or anything.”

While a university education can provide the theory, it doesn’t provide the sort of hands on experience that Tamara has benefitted from: “For some people university is the only way. I think I’ve learned a lot more here. You learn from mistakes. The first time I faced a problem, I wasn’t sure how to deal with it and I asked people in the office and since then I can handle things on my own. I know from past experiences how to handle certain situations whereas with uni, you’re not getting that experience you’re just getting the knowledge.”

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock says: “With more vacancies than ever before, apprenticeships are fast becoming the norm for young people who want to achieve their career goals through an alternative route to University. We want more employers to take advantage of the advice and support available from the National Apprenticeship Service and consider how hiring an apprentice could benefit their business.”

David Way, Executive Director, National Apprenticeship Service says: “A-Level results day can be a really stressful time for young people. The good news is that with ever more Apprenticeships, there is an increasing range of high quality options available to young people.

“Higher Apprenticeships in particular are ideal for A-Level achievers who want to progress onto further learning, but also want to get a foot on the career ladder at the same time. Higher apprentices have the opportunity to gain degree-level equivalent qualifications at the same time as being in paid employment. There are an increasing number of opportunities opening up in prestigious occupations and employers as more and more use Higher Apprenticeships as a way of attracting the best talent.

“Last year, the National Apprenticeship Service saw a record number of applications for Apprenticeships on A-Level results day, and with up to 20,000 vacancies now available online at any one time, this summer we’re expecting that the number of young people applying for an Apprenticeship could hit a new high.”

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