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Most graduates would have preferred apprenticeships to university

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Most graduates regret going to university and blame schools for not promoting apprenticeships properly, according to new research by the CIPD.

But they blame lack of support from their school in providing enough awareness of this alternative vocational form of learning.


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The report revealed found just 1% of young people received any help and support to apply for an apprenticeship during their time at school. By comparison, 59% of students received help from their school for applying to university or college.

The data comes as the lifetime earnings-boost from going to university continues to fall and graduates reflect on the reality of being saddled with huge amounts of debt.

Government has also announced plans requiring graduates to begin paying back their student loans when they earn £22,000 or more (down from the current threshold of £27,295).

Speaking to HR magazine, Andy Lord, CEO of testing and accreditation firm, Credesi, said the results are not surprising.

Credesi has just received Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers approval for its lab technician apprenticeship, which should see 1,000 technician apprenticeships created over the next three years.

He said: “University is Victorian in its structure and out of kilter with the 21st century. The only thing that’s changed is the cost of going there.

“While it’s still great for some, many are just doing degrees hoping that it’ll be a foot in the door rather than anything else. Many are not actually studying for the careers they want to go into.

“They’re also not giving students any real world-of-work experience.”

According to the report many university graduates simply feel they are over-qualified for their jobs. A third of those educated to degree level feel they could have got their jobs without a degree, while 32% of those qualified to degree-level or above said their career had failed to meet their expectations.

Lord added: “While there's still a stigma about apprenticeships, the value of its 'learning and earning' approach is being much better understood. An apprenticeship gives people the exact skills they need for their job, because they are at-work already. It’s tailor-made to their job in a way a degree isn’t.”

Commenting on the results of the research Lizzie Crowley, senior skills adviser at the CIPD, said: “This data shows we need to do a better job of preparing young people for the world of work, so they can make an informed decision about what route is going to give them the best chance of having a long and fulfilling career.”

She added: “It’s crucial that young people receive effective careers advice at school so they are aware of the different career choices and routes open to them that meet their interests, strengths and aptitudes, as well as the needs of employers.”