We should be doing more in schools and colleges to promote and support apprenticeships and career progression, according to young people in the UK.
A survey showed that over 90% of teenagers think that the education system sees exam results as more important than preparing pupils for work. This is perhaps no surprise, given the focus on exam results and league tables for schools, colleges, and even universities. But, as these institutions battle it out for grades, young people feel failed by how poorly they are being prepared for work or told about alternative options to university.
Despite 66% of young people saying they believe apprenticeships offer faster career progression than university, just 21% felt supported by their school to look into apprenticeship options. In fact, a full 98% of 17 and 18-year-olds thought that their schools should be doing more to get them into the world of work. The survey, which was published by apprenticeship specialists GetMyFirstJob, asked 1,000 17-24 year olds their thoughts about how their different career options were presented at school.
While the most-talked about option was university, with 68% saying they discussed this with a careers advisor, just 10% were told about schemes such as Traineeships with them.
If two-thirds of young people think that apprenticeships offer better career progression than university, then why aren’t two-thirds of young people taking apprenticeships?
Despite the ever-increasing interest in alternative routes, such as apprenticeships, it seems that too many young people are simply not getting the advice or guidance they need to feel comfortable looking into these options. And that’s if they are being told about them at all.
Apprenticeships are a genuinely viable alternative route to university with an ever-increasing number of professions and industries offering them. Allowing young people to earn a wage as they train and qualify with practical skills for their chosen career, apprenticeships are now becoming a favoured way for many employers to recruit new staff.
Yet, there seems to be a disconnect between the academically-focused world of school and college education and the wishes and needs of the wider workplace. Many schools are working to breach this gap by inviting businesses in to talk to their students about different career choices and some are even inviting former students back to talk to pupils about their own experiences of apprenticeships. However, it seems that other schools and colleges could be doing much more to offer diverse careers advice.
But why should they bother? Surely, university is the route to a better career? After all, isn’t that how the cost of tuition is explained away – invest in your future so you can earn more later?
Barclays and the Centre for Economics and Business Research found that apprentices are outpacing their university graduate peers by up to 270% in some sectors – and all without the burden of debt. While some graduates will go on to have great careers many others will struggle to find a graduate career in their chosen field.
There is no universal right or wrong in career choices now. Apprenticeships are not a second-best option any longer, they are just another option – often with great prospects and career progression. No longer ‘just for manual workers’ you can find apprenticeships in a wide and ever-increasing number of industries, and apprenticeships are a great option for academic students too.
Perhaps it is time that we all did more to show the diversity of career options available to young people - and help support them - whatever option they feel is best for them.