6 Misconceptions that young people need to address before embarking on a degree or an apprenticeship

6 Misconceptions that young people need to address before embarking on a degree or an apprenticeship

University debt has now risen to £100 billion in the UK, and it’s set to keep rising. Many young people are now looking into alternatives to university. You can read more about apprenticeships as an alternative to university here. But what happens if you’re not sure which path to take?

There is no reason for anyone to throw themselves into an apprenticeship or go to university just for the sake of going! There are a lot of things to consider. In this blog, we’ll do our best to address some of the typical misconceptions of young people about apprenticeships.

1. If I do an apprenticeship, I’ll earn less than a graduate. 

When you’re studying for a degree, you’ll need to pay for your course and most people. This means taking up a student loan. During an apprenticeship, you get paid to work and gain your apprenticeship certification, and you won’t have a student loan to pay off. The reality is that your salary as an apprentice and even beyond your apprenticeship will always depend on the profession you’ve chosen, the type of apprenticeship you’ve chosen and the company you work with. The same applies to graduates. It will depend on the work experience you gained before and during your degree, your qualities and what you have to offer, the degree you studied, the university you attend and the profession you chose. There are so many variables that it’s almost impossible to say one is better.

2. An apprenticeship is more accessible than studying for a degree.

Again this is not necessarily true. So many young people believe that doing an apprenticeship instead of a degree is an easy way out. There is a belief an internship doesn’t require good grades and that it’s a safety net that will secure them a well-paid job after school and ensure that they are debt free.

Many students mess around in their final year of school because they believe they need 5Cs for a suitable apprenticeship. They didn’t attend any revision sessions, hardly prepared for exams and did the bare minimum to get 5Cs at GCSE, and who could blame them? Why work so hard if you feel you have the safety net of an apprenticeship waiting for you? Instead of looking for the easy way out, you should probably take the time to decide on your ideal career and then choose the path that will take you in the right direction.

3. It’s easy to get an apprenticeship with a top company.

The reality is that the top apprenticeships and school/college leaver programmes are competitive. Just like graduate programmes, you’ll face a lot of competition. Top companies want top-quality candidates, so you’d better be prepared to have a brilliant CV and get good GCSEs and A-levels if you want a job with the highest-paying companies. Some of the more glamorous apprenticeships will pay £400 per week, but most will pay about £200 per week. You only need to look online at the apprenticeships to understand what is available.

4. Doing an apprenticeship means I’ll never have to study again.

Unfortunately, this is not true. Most apprenticeships will require some form of assessment or examination as part of the apprenticeship. And, of course, even after your apprenticeship, your career may still need you to take regular exams or build qualifications if you want to move up the career ladder. Instead of thinking about how to get out of exams, why not look for a way to get better at doing them?

5. Apprenticeships are for people that didn’t get good grades or don’t like studying.

Doing an apprenticeship or studying for a degree is something that requires a lot of thought. The decision shouldn’t be based purely on your grades. The real question should be – what are you passionate about? What would you like to do with your life? If the career you want requires a degree, you’ll need to get good grades and go to a top university.  If the career you want doesn’t necessarily require a degree, e.g. Accounting, IT or Management – then you’ll need to get good grades and go and work for the best company you can find that will support you to achieve your career aspirations. Alternatively, if the career you want requires you to go to a specialist Art/Fashion/Music/Dance college, you’ll need to get good grades to get into the specialist college.

6. I’ve been predicted low grades. I probably won’t get good GCSEs, and I’ll have no choice but to do an apprenticeship.

Predictions at school are based on a range of factors. Even as a teacher, I remember being baffled by what the computer spurred out as the predicted grades for my students. The problem is that many students then rest on their laurels, believing there’s just no hope and they’re only as good as the prediction. My view on this is to work hard. Don’t give up because your predictions aren’t that great. I’ve met bright students who gave up on themselves at the most critical point in their lives, and I’ve always wondered what would happen if they put in just a little more effort to get better grades.

If you’re unsure about what you want to do, you should probably take some time to get work experience in a field you are interested in before embarking on an apprenticeship or signing up for a degree.

Do your research into universities and the types of degrees that you could study. Meet people currently on an apprenticeship and ask about their experience. You may also want to look into apprenticeship degrees where you work full-time while gaining a degree through your employer and graduating debt free! Remember that no matter which path you choose – you’ll probably still need to work hard and get good grades by the end of school.

Temi Kamson