What are your options if you don’t want to go to university?
For more than a decade, the UK government has strongly encouraged young people to study for a degree, seeing universities as an engine for economic growth. Many young people have come to attribute success in the modern world to having a degree. University applications have subsequently risen, reaching peak levels, in 2015 according to the UCAS admissions service.
But the value of the degree is changing. A new study has revealed that more than half of British graduates are currently working in jobs that do not require a degree. 59% of UK graduates are in non-graduate jobs, and around one in 12 of those working in low skilled jobs, such as in coffee shops, call centres and at hospitality events are graduates.
The rise in tuition fees means graduates must also consider the promise of student debt. A comparative study found that UK university graduates have higher debts, on average, than their peers in any other English-speaking country.
University is not the only option for young adults. If you are daunted by the harsh realities of the graduate job market and student debt, there are plenty of other options that allow you to gain valuable experience and work towards a qualification simultaneously. Here are some of the options you can explore:
Apprenticeships allow you earn to a wage while learning a trade and gaining a qualification, usually an National Vocational Qualification (NVQ), at the same time. If you successfully complete the apprenticeship, a full-time job is often waiting as a reward at the end. A wide range of apprenticeships are available in a variety of sectors including agriculture, beauty and media.
Apprenticeships are seen as one of the best ways to remedy the skills shortage and reduce levels of unemployment. For instance, employers in the construction industry are desperately seeking trained individuals to solve the shortage of skilled and trained workers and reduce reliance on trained professionals from abroad.
The relatively new higher apprenticeship is designed to give you a higher level of training in industries such as business, engineering and IT. Some higher apprenticeships offer you the chance to work towards a higher qualification, such as a foundation degree, Higher National Diploma (HND), or undergraduate degree. To be eligible, you must have either completed an advanced apprenticeship or have at least two A-levels or equivalent.
School leaver programmes
School leaver programmes are similar to higher apprenticeships and aim to attract ambitious A-level students who are reluctant to pay university tuition fees. Popular in sectors like finance and accountancy, these programmes offer individuals the opportunity to jump straight onto the career ladder via a structured work placement.
Programmes usually combine work experience and intensive training with the opportunity to gain an undergraduate degree or professional qualification. Employers will often cover or contribute to the cost of completing the qualification, meaning tuition fees are either reduced or eliminated completely.
Competition for places on school leaver programmes is fierce and applicants are usually expected to obtain at least 240 UCAS points at A level or equivalent. However, if you are accepted onto a programme you will be guaranteed a competitive salary and will be able to establish yourself within the organisation and industry earlier than you would be able to as a university graduate.
Sponsored degree programmes
Many companies develop their own graduates by sponsoring them through degree level courses. Employers know that by sponsoring students, they end up with highly-trained graduates, while the students benefit from graduating debt free.
There are a variety of sponsored degree programmes in the UK, although there is more scope for sponsorship in vocational areas than in traditional degree subjects.
Sports scholarships that allow students to play elite sport overseas are one of the most popular sponsorship schemes. For instance, a USA sports scholarship allows talented athletes to compete at an elite level while earning an internationally recognised university degree. Successful applicants are granted a financial package that goes towards tuition fees. In return, the college gains the services of the athlete to represent the university for the duration of their stay.
Gap year experience
It’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions about your future. If you’re undecided about what to do next, a gap year could buy you some valuable thinking time. Many young people head off in search of work experience and skills that could boost their employability in the increasingly competitive graduate job market.
Whether you seek adventure in exotic faraway destinations or decide to stay closer to home, your gap year experience can make a huge difference to both your future and the lives of others. Many companies that specialise in gap year travel offer opportunities to volunteer abroad, either in wildlife conservation projects or working with underprivileged communities.
The character building and skills obtained during your gap experience will equip you with attributes employers value in the competitive job market. For instance, foreign language skills are invaluable to employers with international business relations, while employees with cultural awareness can handle international relations with respect and understanding.
The editorial unit