Sharon Walpole

The research was undertaken by the team at www.careermap.co.uk (@CareermapNews), in which more than 1,200 UK business owners and HR leaders were surveyed.

It was initially found that as many as two in five employers (41%) have requested a degree qualification in a job specification before, but of these 68% stipulate that it is desirable only.

Relevant respondents were asked whether they had ever hired someone without a degree after specifying this within the job description, to which two thirds (67%) admitted that they had.

What’s more, a further four in five UK employers (79%) said that they don’t care whether a prospective employee has a degree, whether they asked for it on the job description or not.  

Asked what skills they look for most in entry-level candidates – and able to choose more than one – the most popular answers were ‘enthusiasm’ (78%), ‘transferrable skills’ (71%) and ‘relevant work experience’ (64%).

When all respondents were asked who they would rather employ for an entry-level role, between an apprentice and a graduate, the majority (63%) leaned towards the former option, with the remainder choosing those with degree qualifications.

Concerning apprenticeships, relevant respondents were asked what they look for in a new apprentice, with ‘enthusiasm’ (83%), ‘willingness to learn’ (76%) and ‘passion’ (73%) the three most popular responses.

On top of the study, the Careermap team also took a look to see how many jobs look for degree qualification – to assuage those feeling pressured to go to university. The team found that just 17% of roles on online job site Indeed specify the need for a degree (whether essential or desirable), while 6% were for apprenticeships.

Commenting on the study, Sharon Walpole, Director of www.careermap.co.uk, said:

“This time of year can be incredibly stressful for those people receiving exam results, and the situation can be made even more stressful by the weight of expectation. We wanted to carry out this research to show that there are multiple options available after school, sixth form or college, and that these results won’t define your life.

“Many schools drill it into their students that university is the best option - but we’re here to make students aware of all the options so they can be the most informed decision for their circumstances. We’re not saying that university isn’t a good option, it will be the right path for many, just as apprenticeships will be the right path for many also who would prefer to learn on the job and find they maybe don’t perform best sat at a desk.”

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