With results day having been and gone many students will now be thinking of what their ‘next step’ will be.  For some students this decision is easy they have always known they wanted to be a doctor or an accountant, or perhaps they have always known that they wanted to do an apprenticeship straight after school.

There is a lot of pressure on students from a young age to make big decisions that can affect their future, and knowing that they have to make the right decision first time round in order to benefit the most.

There can be too much pressure on students to go to university when it might not necessarily be the right choice for them.  The perceived need to experience ‘university life’ can lead many to get nothing significant out of the three years and in fact an apprenticeship may have been a better option.

Like it or not, there can be a stigma choosing an apprenticeship, how can this be changed?

Skills minister, Nick Boles argued “I want every young person leaving school to view university degrees and high level apprenticeships as different but equally valid choices.”

Although students now have various options to consider once they leave school, attending university is still the most popular option for students with over 412,000 being awarded a university place last year. However, although this has risen, so has the number of apprenticeships in recent years which could be down to the rise in tuition fees for university.  Last year 55,000 students straight out of school took up apprenticeships in England; this figure has risen by nearly 20% since 2010. For students aged between 19-24, the total number of apprenticeship places in England peaked at 150,000 last year. The sudden rise in older students could be down to the students dropping out of university within their first year, after realising it isn’t for them or perhaps with the sudden increase in university fees students are starting to look at alternative options?

The main issue that recent graduates from university face is getting a job once they are finished. With 1000s of students graduating every year and all chasing jobs that might not necessarily exist, there is going to be an issue with degree relevant work. Recent stats show that 90% of graduates were either in further study or employed 6 months after graduation. Although this does mean that 1 in 10 are not employed these are still good statistics considering the amount of students who are graduating each year. This is where you start to look in more depth at what those 90% are actually doing and whether it is relevant to their degree, and whether or not a degree is really getting students ahead of those completing apprenticeships.

When considering these options, it is easy to see that unless your degree is relevant to your preferred job or ‘pigeon holes’ you (such as a medicine degree), then a degree might not necessarily get you ahead of others.  An apprenticeship could help you make a step forward to where you want to be whilst also earning money. This is something that all students who are making their ‘next step’ need to consider, what is the right choice for them? And what will benefit them the most?

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