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Students fear university won't prepare them for work

?As A-level results are announced, research reveals that students lack confidence in the opportunities available to them

Almost half (44%) of students completing Year 13 do not believe a degree will prepare them for a job, according to research from AVADO.

The research found that 8% believe going to university will only delay them getting into the world of work, with one in five (20%) believing that two to three years of work experience would better prepare them.

The survey of 500 A-level students highlighted a need for better careers guidance for young people, with over a quarter (28%) saying there was not enough careers advice available to help them make important decisions about their future.

When asked what they thought about the opportunities available to them, students said that universities could do more to champion alternatives to traditional degrees. Almost half (49%) said they should be offering more degree apprenticeships and 41% said they should be creating more internship or apprenticeship opportunities for students.

But despite these concerns university continues to be the preferred route for school leavers, AVADO found. Almost three-quarters (73%) of school leavers surveyed said they plan on going to university when they finish school, compared to 10% who plan on getting a job straight away, 5% who plan on doing an apprenticeship, and 4% who intend to take a gap year.

Clare Whittingham, chief growth officer at AVADO, said that she did not believe that universities offer enough support for students, which is putting pressure on employers. "[We] don’t believe universities are giving students the skills they need to enter the workforce after university," she told HR magazine. "We’ve encountered numerous organisations who are looking to use tools such as the apprenticeship levy to support graduate development programmes, and create the right skillsets within their graduate hires.

"Most university courses are not created in response to employer demand or need, so students are leaving university without the required practical and technical skills to effectively enter the workforce, resulting in graduates struggling to find roles and employers having to invest in reskilling graduates to give them the right level of practical knowledge."

Whittingham added that employers must work with educators to ensure that young people have the right skills for the future. "There is huge opportunity for employers and educators to collaborate more to create relevant skills programmes which can help foster the right talent and skills in the existing and future workforce – from accelerating the pace of apprenticeship standard development, and providing the right flexibility in an apprenticeship to ensure it meets employers’ needs, to developing the right skillsets in university courses to ensure whatever route to work people take they can be equipped to thrive in the future," she said

"We all need to become clearer on the skills and behaviours that employers – from start-ups to SMEs to multinationals – are looking for and ensure our education system is set up to ensure it can foster these skills. But we also need to celebrate the different routes into the workforce and invest time in raising the profile and brand of apprenticeships as a comparable alternative to university with students, parents and teachers. We need to enable people to choose the option that is right for them, their learning style, their ambition and their mindset to help everyone achieve their potential."

Students in Scotland found out their SQA results on Tuesday (6 August). Other British students will find out their A-level results tomorrow (15 August).