From education to employment

Employers and A-level students can reap benefits of apprenticeships

Progress to Excellence Ltd is backing a move by the universities admissions service UCAS to encourage the creation of more apprenticeships and for young people to seek jobs rather than take expensive degree courses.

The call comes as A-level exam results are announced – and the news that the number of university applications is down this year along with the prediction that there will be fewer people this week getting places on university courses.

Damian Burdin, Chief Executive at Progress to Excellence Ltd, said: “The head of UCAS, Clare Marchant, has been reported as saying that although a degree was usually worthwhile, university is not for everyone and that rates of 60-70 per cent of people going to university was ‘the entirely wrong thing to do’.

 “She called for more apprenticeships and said some teenagers would be better suited to getting a job and maybe applying for a degree when they were older.

“I see this as a massive leap of faith in the culture of apprenticeships. It’s one which is beginning to experience a revival among thousands of young people as they see it as a major opportunity to pursue a worthwhile career rather than commit to the expense of a degree course – and no guarantee of a job at the end of it.”

UCAS figures show that the number of young people achieving degree courses this week is expected to be “in the order of 2.5 per cent lower than last year”.

Some of this is believed to be due to a demographic dip in the number of 18-year-olds. However, universities are being hit by a slump in older and part-time students and the total number of UK applications is down by 3.4 per cent on last year.

Experts have also said that the vision more than 20 years ago of greater numbers of teenagers going to university was now “outdated” with many students and their families questioning the value of £9,250-a-year degree courses.

Damian pointed out: “Our partnerships with employers show that young people who are developed and nurtured in the workplace via apprenticeship programmes are reaping the benefits of earning while learning, sometimes putting them further up the jobs ladder than their counterparts who have chosen to spend three years working towards a degree.

“Feedback from companies shows that apprenticeships actually deliver and produce benefits to the business and that employers are getting a loyal, specially trained workforce, developed to attain a specific service culture.

“And on the apprentice side of the coin, the majority go straight in to full-time work or further training after completing their apprenticeship and many immediately get a promotion.”

Since 2010, around two-and-a-half million new apprenticeships have been created in England and another three million are expected by 2020. The top three sectors were in the categories of business, administration and law; health, public service and care, and retail and commercial enterprises. 

Damian added: “More and more young people, and their parents, are now seeing apprenticeships as a serious alternative to university.

“A huge plus is that there’s no debt and no scrambling by graduates, once they have gained a degree, to convince prospective employers to take them on without any relevant work experience.

“Home-grown talent from apprenticeships provides the country with its own skilled and loyal workforce equipped to deal with the economic challenges ahead. Hopefully, parents and schools will join employers in encouraging young people to look at this alternative to being shunted down the university route.”

The free Apprenticeship Recruitment Service at Progress to Excellence Ltd is available to all employers, old and new. Once in post, the apprentice is trained within the workplace by Progress to Excellence Ltd and, under the Apprenticeship Funding Reforms, the employer will make a contribution or pay for the costs of this training.

To find out more about this service, and how it can benefit your business, visit or email [email protected]

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