A former exam board boss, now a training leader, has urged parents of pupils about to receive their A level results not to put their children off from considering a high level or degree apprenticeship as an alternative to going to university.

Mark Dawe, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, says that big name employers offering apprenticeships, the student debt mountain, too many graduates ending up in non-grad jobs and the career progression and high earning opportunities available through most apprenticeships have completely transformed the debate around what successful A levels students should do next.     

Mark Dawe comments:

‘Many successful apprentices tell us that they found about their apprenticeship opportunities themselves, receiving no help at all from their parents or teachers.  In fact, there are still plenty of examples of them being actively discouraged from choosing an alternative to university.

‘It’s not so much that snobbery is an issue – it’s more a case of parents and teachers being unaware of the benefits and potential earnings available from apprenticeships in both the manufacturing and service sectors.  Many don’t realise for example that you can become a fully qualified lawyer or accountant through the apprenticeship route and that public sector organisations like the NHS offer routes to senior management via the programme.’

‘More and more young people are seriously weighing up their options that may result in them choosing an apprenticeship or a technical education course rather than university.  Parents should take pride in these choices rather than thinking of apprenticeships as being just for other people’s children.’   

The AELP CEO points out that April’s introduction of the apprenticeship levy has engaged many more large employers in the programme and many are restructuring recruitment practices to change the their mix of new graduates and apprentices.

Russell Group universities now offering degree apprenticeships

Options are also widening as ‘no debt’ degree apprenticeships take off.  Employers have teamed up over 90 universities to offer them so far, including Russell Group institutions such as Durham, Birmingham, Leeds and Warwick.

Last week the Sutton Trust reported that just over half of young people intending to attend university are worried about the cost of higher education (http://bit.ly/2wWPjDq).  Two years ago, the Trust with the Boston Consulting Group found that those on a level 5 and debt-free higher apprenticeship were earning an average £34,220 per annum over lifetime earnings, just £1,300 or just 3.6% per annum less than a traditional degree from a non-Russell Group university (http://bit.ly/2uFJ6e9).

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Mark Dawe comments further:

‘Young people can avoid the stress and worries which we keep reading about by opting for an apprenticeship which offers paid employment, a route to a degree, no debt and great career prospects.  The landscape for them has completely changed.’

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