There’s been a massive rise in students deciding to forgo traditional pathways in favour of making cold hard cash right off the bat. How are they doing it, you ask? Apprenticeships.
If you don’t already know, an apprenticeship is a job that combines practical training in a job with study. Apprentices work alongside experienced staff, where they gain job-specific skills, earn a wage, get holiday pay and time for study related to your role. The schemes take around one to five years to complete, depending on their level, and at the end of it, some may give you an additional qualification such as a diploma or a degree.
In 2005/6 there were 175,000 apprentices starting on new schemes, compared with 509,360 in 2015/16, according to government figures. So, why are they catching on?
Aside from a dislike of the classroom, the reason the number of students opting for apprenticeships is growing include a fear of incurring debt, along with the need to secure a job. A recent report by the Sutton Trust found that many university students – of which a record 424,000 started this year – will be paying off their loans into their 40s and 50s, while figures from the Office for National Statistics have shown that half of recent graduates are in non-graduate jobs.
Not that apprentices make a fortune: the minimum wage for an apprentice aged 16-18 and those over the age of 19 in their first year is £2.68 per hour.
But despite the low wages, the benefits of apprenticeships for young people are obvious. For one thing, career progression is encouraged. And with the average student leaving university with £57,000 of debt and no guarantee of a job, why not earn while you learn?