While we all believe that apprenticeships were developed to provide young people with the necessary practical work experience for a specific job, it used to be generally accepted that apprenticeships were more tailored for people who wanted to go into the trades. This is no longer the case.
Many of the UK’s most prestigious employers, from accounting, law and engineering firms to high profile banks, are now putting desirable apprenticeships in place for career hunters who want to learn on-the-job and in 2016 a record high of close to 900,000 apprenticeships were taken up. Some experts believe that fewer than 30% of jobs will go to graduates in the next few years.
On the flip side, education journalist Laura McInerney has an admirable desire to engender greater faith in the education system; but the differences between apprenticeships and degrees might not be as straightforward as they seem. According to Frank Field MP, apprenticeships should be made more available to young adults and Khosro S Jahdi believes academic and career achievement does not have to be hindered by lower A-level results.
In a recent report by Laura McInerney, she implies that, according to the IFS (Institute of Fiscal Studies), women with a university degree earn over 50% more by the age of 29 than those without, but the study does not include the earning power of women who had an apprenticeship. On the other hand, it does mention that people with certain degrees might even earn less than others with no degree at the same age of 29.
However, the Office for National Statistics also recently discovered that the average hourly rate for a graduate came down in 2016, while someone who managed to do an apprenticeship without a degree, saw a rise of 3.7% in their hourly rate for the same period.
Although information and opinions can be contradictory, it has to be considered that whilst the spectrum of personal skills a degree provides may award a person with more flexible career opportunities for the future, an apprenticeship will not only cut out tuition fees, but it will also allow a candidate to earn money while they learn on-the-job.
Taking economic development and employment statistics into consideration, it appears that completing an apprenticeship might be an appropriate equivalent to a degree education, especially since it will also provide the necessary skills and qualifications someone needs to start a career, as well as financial independence.