There are alternatives to university!

Written by Kessa Amoo, Project Manager, Education Works

This month saw the 15th National Apprenticeship Week (7-11 February). As we reflect on the week, many of our corporate alliance partners have shared meaningful apprenticeship resources and information with us, for us in turn to share with our east London schools. Having relevant, up-to-date information about the importance of apprenticeships and about how they are viable alternative routes into employment, is crucial for the next generation when thinking about their future careers – this helps them to understand the wealth of options and opportunities available to them after school.

Apprenticeships often carry a negative connotation that link them to blue-collar roles, and many students believe that an apprenticeship may not be the route for them for various reasons, namely assumptions that an apprenticeship does not equate to the weight of a degree. Apprenticeships, however, are very commonly misunderstood –  with the real-world learning and essential skills that they teach being overlooked and undervalued. Apprentices usually spend 12 months or more learning skills that will directly help them in employment, alongside being employed and paid. They are free (if the learner is under 25), meaning that individuals will avoid the looming debt of university, and still have a chance to learn really important skills.

At ELBA, it is incredibly important to ensure that we consider the pathways and aspirations of all our east London students, and inform them of other opportunities to land their dream career. On 10th February, ELBA designed a ‘routes into employment’ session that formed part of Royal Docks Academies’ Year 11 ‘Boss Day’ – a day where students were able to learn and practise skills, understanding a bit more about life in the corporate world. This session focussed on teaching students that there is more than one route to get to the same destination, and students should carefully consider which option is best for them. We understand that university will not be suited to every type of learner, and it is crucial that young people are informed that careers are still accessible to them through other means, such as apprenticeships. Although university degrees are respected for the depth of knowledge and transferable skills they provide, apprenticeships are also respected for their practical-learning and application of skills to a real work setting.

According to analysis by the Office for National Statistics, more people without degree qualifications are working in graduate-level jobs, meaning that as we move through the digital-age, apprenticeships and training are becoming increasingly valued. As more businesses seek to give alternative routes in for those who may not want to study an undergraduate degree, and provide more opportunities for development of and application of key personal and professional skills, apprenticeships are becoming a more viable route into the top careers.

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