This question is on the mind of most young adults whilst completing further education in either sixth form or college. It is also one of the most difficult decisions they will have faced so far in their life, so is one better than the other?
As part of my current role, I get the chance to visit many schools and discuss with the students, their futures and what options are available to them. I often ask them if they have decided the path that they will take once they have completed their studies and this is often met with indecision about whether to pursue an apprenticeship or a university placement. It is indeed a difficult decision; however, I always advise that it must be the right choice for them.
An apprenticeship provides an opportunity for an apprentice to learn on and off the job training from experienced professionals within their chosen industry. As standard, academic qualifications are received upon completion but most apprenticeships now offer industry recognised qualifications as well. The apprentice will earn a wage whilst they learn, whilst also developing transferable skills throughout the duration of the programme. There are hundreds of apprenticeships on offer to young adults over different levels and throughout a multitude of industries
A university is an institution that offers undergraduate and graduate degrees. There are thousands of courses on offer and for some chosen careers, university is a must to gain specific qualifications. University graduates gain recognised professional qualifications for their chosen sector.
There is much to take into consideration when comparing apprenticeships and university such as: what do you get out of them? Both routes will end with a student coming away with recognised qualifications within their chosen sector. With university, students will generally experience more of a social scene, however they will not come away with the industry experience an apprentice has gained over the duration of their apprenticeship. Apprentices are paid, whereas generally, university students will have a part time job on the side of their studies. Also, Apprentices will have industry experience under their belt whereas a university student will not. The cost of learning is always one of the key factors when comparing the two. Apprenticeships are generally 100% funded for the leaner, however a student at a university will usually come away with a large loan to pay back over the course of their career.
Style of learning
Another factor a student must take into consideration is their preferred style of learning. If their preferred style of learning is classroom based and they prefer more academia, then university may be the more suitable route. However, if they are a more practical ‘hands-on’ learner then an apprenticeship could be their best option.
When a young adult is completing their further education whether it be through college or sixth form, they must invest time to research both university and apprenticeships. Their decision should be based on: what is important to them at that time, the path required for their chosen career and the environment in which they believe they can thrive. It should be a well thought out decision with all the above taken into consideration. They should always remember that there is never a right or wrong answer, that plans don’t always go the way we expect and that apprenticeships/university may not be how they’d imagined it would be before they started. However, the decision made is not final and changes can be made to suit a student’s specific needs.