Degree or No Degree?

Young professional apprentice working with employers in business

The rise of university fees for many prospective university attendees has also given rise to questioning over the value of a university degree in today’s economy. Many appear to back the argument that university is not for everybody and are promoting apprenticeships as a good alternative.

It may be easy for some to mock this idea (especially for the academic purists), but with almost half of this summer’s university graduates expected to take jobs that do not require a degree and with undergraduate fees jumping to £9,000 a year, it’s really no wonder prospective students and their parents are increasingly asking if it’s worth going to university at all.

Other options?

There are choices for school leavers who may wish to gain experience in the working environment or even start work in the form of work-based learning. Apprenticeships, work placements, internships are popular methods in which the young individual can ‘learn and earn’ (see more here)

Benefits to having a degree…

Degrees can offer a lot to an increasingly competitive job market as it could be the factor to set many apart. They also offer long term certainty and higher success rates and the notion of being ‘well educated’ is significant to employers looking for those with a prior understanding and knowledge of the industry.

Matt Holmes is a 2nd year student at University: “Going to University seemed like the automatic choice as all my friends were going and I didn’t really know what else there was to do. I got good grades at A-level so I thought I would continue studying. I feel like I’ve learnt more about what I want to do since coming here and I believe having a degree will help me secure a job in the long term.”

The alternative…

Doing an apprenticeship can prepare young individuals with vital work experience and a knowledge of the working environment that can prove advantageous to employers. It gives individuals the opportunity to learn practical working skills and earn money at the same time. It can also allow for further progression within the company and for long term employment should the individual perform well.

Kelly Jones is currently undertaking a Hospitality & Catering apprenticeship at County Training: “I didn’t want to go to University because I thought the fees were too expensive and I wanted to start earning money straightaway. The apprenticeship has allowed me to earn money and pick up new skills. I believe this puts me in a better place job wise than my friends who may be in a lot of debt and have limited or no experience of work after University.”

Visit here for more information on Apprenticeships.

From a business perspective…

This change of outlook is prompting businesses look at ways to recruit more school leavers, and take advantage of funder training programmes such as apprenticeships. With the  benefit of broadening the diversity of their workforces and the added incentive of receiving up £1500 for taking on an apprentice, as well as  the opportunity to nurture and develop young, you can see why apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly popular choice amongst today’s savvy business owners.

Employability in Shropshire…

Shropshire’s economy consists of smaller businesses with almost 88% of workplaces in Shropshire accommodating 10 or fewer employees. These businesses contribute significantly to Shropshire’s economy and with the recent addition of the 16-24 Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE) employers have the added incentive of taking on younger individuals as apprentices in order to ‘train and gain’.

Tony Bywater, Owner of Salop Leisure states; “I personally believe that it’s the duty of all employers in our county to look for ways to give young people an opportunity to work, which will benefit their businesses in the long term. It’s a long term process and not a quick fix, but it is worth persevering.”

Mr Bywater believes this to be the case also as he states that; “Too many adults are prepared to give up on young people and one of the main reasons for that is that our education system is not preparing them properly for the working life. They need to taught about values and given life skills.”

What do you think is more important – the level of education or the amount of work experience? Let us know your views and take our poll below!


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