From education to employment

Employers say they value apprenticeship experience over university degrees

Employers have said that they prefer candidates to have gained valuable work experience from an apprenticeship ahead of a university degree according to a survey conducted by AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians).

Ahead of A-Level and GCSE results days, 49 per cent of employers said they would prefer to see experience from a relevant apprenticeship or previous position on a candidate’s CV, compared to only 24 per cent who would prefer to see a relevant degree qualification.

Of those who said they prioritise candidates who have relevant experience from an apprenticeship or previous position, 71 per cent said they prefer it because it shows that candidates have demonstrated their skills in a practical setting, and 62 per cent said it indicates they have a better understanding of the world of work.

Suzie Webb, AAT’s Director of Education and Development said: “Ahead of A-Level results day, we wanted to inform young people about the things employers are looking for, to help them have a clear idea of what they need to consider as they think about their careers. Many people still think that having a university degree will be most valued by employers, but our research suggests this is not necessarily the case.”

Employers also specified the top ten priorities they look for in a candidate when they are hiring. They are:

  1. How they’d fit into the company culture
  2. How much experience they have
  3. Their general personality
  4. How well qualified they are
  5. A proactive attitude
  6. Ability to work in a team
  7. Showing a willingness to learn
  8. Ability to self-manage and take initiative
  9. Showing ambition
  10. Communication skills

Suzie Webb said: “This shows that employers are looking for soft skills as well as qualifications when they are hiring, and is potentially why more of them have said they would prefer to see an apprenticeship on a client’s CV.

“Many AAT students study our accounting qualifications through apprenticeships, and we see how they are able to learn things such as how to fit in with a company’s culture, work as part of a team, and develop communications skills, because they are in a practical work environment.

“Young people who are receiving their A-Levels should remember that it is as important to build up their soft skills as it is to gain qualifications, to give them the best chance of having the successful career they want.”

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