Here we are, back at the age-old question plaguing the minds of millions of students: Should I take an apprenticeship or go to university? It's a tough decision to make, hence it's the one that no one can really provide a formulaic answer to. However, in a post-pandemic world, there's a bit more clarity on how apprenticeships can be the way to go. In this article, I will talk about why you should take an apprenticeship, what are the comparisons to universities, and most importantly, how an apprenticeship qualification has changed in meaning in a post-Covid 19 world.
Apprenticeship VS University
The key difference between an apprenticeship and university education is the amount of experience you graduate with. Comparing degree level apprenticeships and bachelors university degrees, on a technical level, you would be graduating with an equivalent qualification. Most students, while weighing up the time and commitment to achieve an equivalent qualification, need to also consider the associated costs. Universities aren't cheap (sorry international students!) but they do offer loan options so that you won't have to directly pay a huge sum upfront. However, at times this can feel like starting 1-0 behind in the game of financial independence. Sure, it's not an impossible match to win, but it's not exactly the best condition to start either. The big benefit an apprenticeship can bring to the table is its debt free approach. Not only do you receive a qualification debt free, you get paid to do it! The reality is, in such an uncertain time, there’s never been a time where having an apprenticeship could provide great benefit to your employment.
Apprenticeships in a Post-Pandemic World
Since the pandemic shut down life and forced a change in the work environment, there has been a shift in the skills and requirements employers have been looking for. Companies simply cannot afford to waste money to train a university graduate who hasn't worked besides the odd job or 2, and then for them to leave employment soon after. The training and “getting acquainted” cost has become too high for most employers to take, hence the mass of university graduates currently queueing up in the unemployment line. With a degree level apprenticeship though, you stand out to them as a person that's been there, done that, looking for the next step in their career. A small company looking for a data analyst? No problem, because you just finished your IT support apprenticeship, working in the thick of it, while some university graduate has not analyzed data beyond the data set assigned to them by their lecturers. You have the experience, along with the theoretical knowledge and soft skills of working in a workplace alongside co-workers that taught you, first hand, how to do anything that comes up. In areas where expertise or working proficiency with certain software is required, you’re one step ahead with an apprenticeship. During your time, you have most likely worked with the software an employer is looking for proficiency in compared to a university graduate who may or may not have used it. This is crucial in navigating the choppy waters of employment in the sea of unemployed youths.
So, we know apprenticeships can be a critical advantage in gaining employment through experience and knowledge, but how do you actually start the process? First, it's best to look through some options to see which sector you would be most interested in. A tool such as the apprenticeship finder (Find the right apprenticeship - Apprenticeship Finder) can help you take a look at your options and search industries directly to cater to your requests. It's a great website that explains how apprenticeships work, gives advice, and provides search engines to find an apprenticeship for you. In addition the Apprenticeships website from gov.uk is a simple way of searching apprenticeships and finding some basic information. Overall, we've talked about why you should take an apprenticeship in a post-pandemic world. It's morphed into a very valuable tool to gain insight into your options post-16 and beyond. In such a world, an apprenticeship could be your key to explore your options and elevate your career above sitting at home looking aimlessly at job adverts.