Today’s typical student will leave university with a debt of around £40,000. This sum is likely to increase as fees and living costs rise. Many graduates are asking themselves if it was even worth it, when they end up working in low-paid, insecure work – or even the dreaded zero-hours contracts. They regret having invested so much time, money and effort into a degree that, it seems, is not going to repay the investment. When it is estimated that a massive 77% of people will never even pay their student loans off, the case is clear for taking another career route – an apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships may seem unappealing to school leavers sold a promise of a lucrative and rewarding career if they go to uni. It is true that they will have to spend some time learning the trade and earning very little. But the apprentice will be learning valuable and practical skills that will stand him or her in good stead – and by the time their peers leave university, burdened by tens of thousands of pounds in debt, our former apprentice will already be earning, without owing a single penny.
In spite of what we are told, learning a trade can often be far more lucrative than desk jobs once the apprentice is qualified and experienced. Plumbers, builders and the like haven’t yet been made redundant by technology, and a good tradesman can be assured of constant work. Many such jobs are not as localised as desk jobs can be; for example, anyone going into finance is likely to have to base themselves in London, whereas tradesmen can work all over the country. Skilled tradesmen can also find well-paid employment in manufacturing and construction; indeed, there is a shortage of qualified people in many trades.
Taking an apprenticeship offers a great deal of advantages over the more glamorous path of university and a desk job. You will have the chance to get on the property ladder much earlier than your peers, gain work experience while they are still studying, and acquire skills that will always be useful. If you need any more convincing, take a look at some of the many apprenticeship jobs out there. Practical skills may have taken second place to classroom-based learning for many years now, but there are sound reasons why it makes sense to favour the former over the latter. Having a degree can teach you transferable skills for the workplace, but for all too many students, it is clear that they have been sold a lie, and that they will never recoup the time or money spent on their degree. Take up an apprenticeship, on the other hand, and you’ll be far better off financially.