Unless you get a degree you will end up in the bottom half of society” and “rejecting the offer of a university place means a greatly increased risk of living in poverty” according to a recent Guardian feature.
The article claims that when students pick up their A-level results this week, they have little choice but to jostle for whatever university place they can get.
Do students really have little choice but to go to university?
This couldn’t be further from the truth – the choices available to young people are much more varied than this article suggests.
For a start, there are apprenticeships available in 1500 jobs roles in over 170 industries. The misconception that apprenticeship job roles are low-skilled, low-paid positions, with little academic rigour also needs dealing with.
Many apprentice job roles enable individuals to begin a career in a highly skilled role which can lead to high pay and excellent career prospects. One does not need to get a degree to become a lawyer, to become a chartered accountant, to become a forensic scientist or to become an engineer for example (and this is only a tiny proportion of the apprenticeships available).
As for career prospects and employability – 90% of apprentices will stay in employment after completing their apprenticeship and 25% of apprentices received a promotion within 12 months of completing. In addition to this it is estimated that those who completed a higher apprenticeship could earn £150,000 more over their lifetime than a graduate.
Studying full time at university for a degree, which is far from the only option given the number of higher education qualifications offered by colleges of further education will not be the right choice for every young person. What young people need is to be fully informed of the variety of routes into employment available to them and accurate labour market predictions to help them select a career path with expected employability. This will empower them to make good decisions regarding their choice beyond school.