In Shropshire (UK) alone more than 3,700 people have started apprenticeships in the last twelve months with the county’s spike in people taking up a vocational course becoming newsworthy as its one of the highest figures in the country. Combine that with Shropshire’s reasonably low population and you have a fascinating turn of events. This does not include the 2,000 people who achieved their apprenticeship qualifications within that period as well.
For a while now apprenticeships have conjured imagery of men in hard hats drilling through blocks of metal, sparks fizzing up, like orange fountains against their goggles. (Or is that just me?) Practical trades were once all the rage but new figures suggest that the most popular trades to take up these days are business administration, law, health, public services and care work.
While plumbers and electricians still earn a mighty fine pay cheque the scope of what an apprenticeship can be has changed dramatically and now vocational courses can be in anything.
Mostly the rise of apprenticeships as an option for those looking to continue learning after school has come to an end has come at the detriment of universities. Uni has become a tough subject for the government who have hiked up fees year-on-year and now with student debt rising and barely a third of students predicted to pay back said debt within their lifetime, it finally looks as if other options are being seriously explored.
Apprenticeships offer the opportunity to earn will you learn with up to £500 a week on offer for those on the best courses. Diversifying the range of subjects available to learn vocationally has made apprenticeships something of a direct rival to university.
Another reason for this is the levels of apprenticeship available to those who want one. There are opportunities for progression all the way to master’s degree and while they don’t necessarily guarantee you a job at the end of it they are valued in the sense that most employers would rather you have hands-on experience than be more academically minded.
Clearly for those who want to study philosophy, politics, ancient history or anything purely cerebral then university is completely the correct option. Universities are not a dying form of education and do offer some of the best experts in the country in their chosen fields.
Practice rationality if you are someone who is considering a future in further education but exploring the options that come with apprenticeships is always a good idea.