We are approaching a time where the lives of thousands of young people are at a crossroads. Significant life decisions are due to be made in their lives: whether to continue with further education either in university or to go down the vocational trade route. 

Despite having their own perceptions and stereotypes, these two routes are not so different from one another as was once assumed; you can achieve great levels of success travelling along both paths. However, it might surprise you to discover that our typical impressions of the route into the trade industry, for example, are somewhat different to what we are brought up to expect. 

Outdated stereotypes and preconceived notions have caused the trade industry to be disregarded as a plausible alternative to university. Below, we observe the results of a recent study commissioned by Selco, which surveyed 500 manual skilled workers to see how they are faring in the trade industry. Here we consider the real benefits of being aware all career options. You never know – it might be the very thing you’ve been looking for.

 

Education vs money

 

Financial Security

The most startling figures uncovered by Selco determine that tradespeople are, on average, far more financially stable than students after their education is complete. While the average student debt is around £45,000, the typical tradesperson’s debt is at only £5,600. 

This can be explained by the fact that tradespeople are able to earn a salary much earlier on in their careers; vocational training courses also tend to be shorter and more inexpensive than university courses. Students will typically have to wait beyond their graduation until they can find employment, and are then playing catchup to pay back their fees. 

Not only this, but having fewer debts will allow for greater financial flexibility and even opportunities for investment. 70% of tradespeople asked have savings, and ⅓ said they invested their earnings in ventures such as property, stocks and shares, or crypto currency, allowing them to grow their wealth and continue to remain financially stable. Such opportunities seldom lend themselves to students who have to scrimp and save throughout their degrees. 

Not only are tradespeople earning earlier in their lives, but they are typically earning more, sooner. A living wage can be expected to be earnt by age 22 as a tradesperson, and while this is also a possible achievement for a university graduate, it can take as long as age 29 before they can earn the same.

 

Lifestyle

It goes without saying that money troubles and financial comfort lend themselves to all other kinds of benefits in life. 73% of tradespeople asked in the survey said that they were happy with their jobs, which is considerably higher than the average figure of UK job satisfaction, between 41-65%. 

But why is this figure significantly higher than the rest of UK workers? The primary reason is undoubtedly about a sense of pride. 72% of the tradespeople in the survey said that pride was the single most fulfilling element of their job happiness. 67% answered that the satisfaction of hard work was the reason, 54% gave a sense of responsibility, 49% suggested that it was the confidence generated by trade work, 37% noted the work’s required dedication, while 34% put it down to the demand for focus. 

It goes without saying that work in the trade industry requires all of these characteristics, as of course do other academic vocations. But it’s far easier to enjoy hard work, and to feel pride in your work, while you’re also earning and feel yourself progressing, rather than slipping into an ever steeper pit of debt. The primary motive of work in the trade industry for many is that feeling of progress, pride, worthwhile perseverance, and to feel yourself moving forward in life.

 

Home Ownership

And this leads us to another major difference between the university and trade routes. Statistically, you are more likely to be a homeowner at a younger age as a tradesperson than as a student – three years younger, to be exact – and are typically leaving home one year sooner than your student equivalents. 

Tradespeople are generally homeowners by the time they are 27, whereas the rest of the UK are on average aged 30 before they are given the keys to their own place. Not only this, but 44% of tradespeople are likely to have owned multiple properties than average workers, and 1 in 6 tradespeople will have statistically owned more than one property at the same time.

 

Settling Down

Without exaggerating the importance of these decisions, their outcomes do define, to a certain extent, the way your life will progress. The decisions you take after leaving school can impact things further down the line, and according to the results of this survey, these can be as significant as how soon you get married and have children. 

Along with home ownership, tradespeople are typically married and settled, and will even have had their first child, at an earlier age than their student counterparts. The average male tradesperson’s marriage happens on average five years earlier than other men, and for women this is three years earlier. 

Tradespeople will statistically have had their first child by the age of 26 – this is two years before the female average (28), and a whopping seven years before the male average (33). 

 

Success

Success in life is ultimately subjective, and can be measured in a number of ways. By no means is it true that the life of a tradesperson is necessarily any more successful than that of a university student, and it goes without saying that, you can make the most of any decision you make. 

But it’s worth emphasising that the trade industry can be an option for a highly successful career, perhaps more so than is typically expected. 1 in 4 tradespeople have gone on to start their own businesses, and have taken their futures into their own hands. It’s a career which offers promise, growth, self-discovery, and autonomy. 

Unfortunately, a debt-free life is no longer a guarantee for anyone, but university graduates are particularly vulnerable in today’s job market. Job security is increasingly hard to find in the wider world. 

But the trade industry is providing this secure option for thousands of people. The past year has seen the construction industry go from strength to strength, continuing to work around the clock to provide essential services for people, and offering education and training for thousands who decided to retrain and increase their employability. 

The trade industry could be the safety net – and even saving grace – for you and your future. Access Training is one of the UK’s biggest training companies, and can provide you with the skills and direction you need to invest in your future and establish your career. 

Give yourself a career – give Access Training a call today.


Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

further education

At the Annual Conservative Party Conference, held in September 2019, the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson addressed ‘the forgotten fifty per cent’: the portion of the UK’s population which is ‘often overlooked’ when it comes to educational avenues and investment. He stressed the importance of ‘vocational education’ by arguing that it is ‘just as valuable as University education’, and indeed ‘just as important to our economy’; in short, he said that a large portion of the population had been ‘forgotten’ and ‘ignored’ by our education system.

 

Fast forward to his statement in July 2020, and these words have acquired an urgency which resonates with us now more than ever. ‘The tragedy is that for decades we have forgotten about half of our education system’, he writes, while making ‘a commitment to stand for the forgotten 50%’. It is a commitment on which the future of our economy and construction industries depends.

 

Some context: way back in 1999, Prime Minister Tony Blair made it his government’s priority to ensure that 50% of the population attended university, a target which was reached in 2017-18, where 50.2% of students went on to study at university. As ambitious and well-meaning as Blair’s target seemed back in 1999, it certainly bodes the question: what about the other 50%?

 

How we're helping the forgotten 50%

Of course, Access Training has been asking the same questions for years: what about the 50% who don’t consider going to university to be a viable or favourable option? What about those who are perfectly cut out for a career in the trades industry, who need the services we provide to prepare them for the future? What about those highly practical and skilled individuals who are now so crucial to propping up our economy?

 

These are the people that Access Training caters for, and Mr Williamson’s long-overdue call for more investment in training programmes proves that our finger has been on the pulse since the very beginning.

 

But most importantly, we must ask whether university degrees actually deliver the benefits we are told they do? Not so, according to Mr Williamson, who notes the fact that ‘five years after completion, the average Higher Technical Apprentice earns more than the average graduate’. This statistic is earth-shattering to the notion that a university education provides a more dependable route to a lucrative career – and so why have we been peddling it for decades?

 

The truth is, the overwhelming focus of the Department of Education in recent decades has been on reaching pointless statistical landmarks without questioning their value, and as a result, half of the country’s student population has been left out of the equation. No equivalent investment has been made in the futures of the forgotten 50% – despite the fact that apprenticeships and vocational tradespeople often earn more than their graduate counterparts, there is still a massive skills shortage in the construction industry: as of October 2019, 40% of construction trades experienced their highest skills shortages since 2013. Our job is to fill that gap – by treating the trades as a secondary or lower form of education, it’s looking like a steep hill to climb.

 

So after two decades, the forgotten 50% are back in the limelight. But despite Mr Williamson’s commendable emphasis on the ‘need for upskilling, reskilling and retraining’, he fails to draw his attention to the current work of Independent Training Providers who have been supplying these crucial services for years already. It is what the country needs, and it is our ticket to salvaging our economy and future job markets. In short, it’s what we need to ‘get Britain working again'.

 

Since the onset of the pandemic, Access Training has transformed its technical and vocational training into an online portal, available to everyone, anywhere, for however long they need it. It is precisely this ability to provide what Mr Williamson calls ‘flexible, practical training’ which makes our educational model so effective and popular with our students, and perfectly matches Mr Williamson’s vision for the future – right now in the present.

 

The future of reskilling and retraining is already here – enquire today about a course with Access Training.

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For many young people today, it's easy to think of university as an automatic route - the default next step after leaving school. With fewer vacancies and greater competition, it can seem like there are not as many opportunities available nowadays as there used to be, and so going to university comes across as being the safest option.

But is the experience of university worth the enormous tuition fees and oppressive debts that come with it? Is university really the surest route to a successful career?

The answer is: no it isn't, at least not for everybody. Many other equally prosperous options are often overlooked by parents, teachers and students alike.

What does university cost?

In 2012, university tuition fees in England almost tripled, going from £3,375 per year to £9,000 per year. At the time, students were promised increased value for money, a far higher quality of university teaching, and far better future prospects - and if the higher fees actually were justified by a far higher quality of learning and a better future for students, then perhaps this could be seen as a fair deal. But with the number of students increasing each year, the value of a degree has if anything fallen since 2012.

And that's not the only problem. The latest report on student debt by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) revealed that graduate students are currently facing a lifetime of debt, averaging around £57,000. On top of tuition fees, which are continually increasing,  this extortionate lifetime bill is made even heftier when maintenance fees and general living costs are taken into account.

So unless a university education is undoubtedly, unquestionably what you want to pursue, why saddle yourself with such a huge backlog of debt?

Is it worth it?

Many students who started university courses after fees were increased have now completed their degrees, but a lot of them are not doing too well; according to The National Union of Students, nearly half of all students who attended university as undergraduates in 2012 are now back to living with their parents.

And the struggle to find employment is only going to become more difficult, according to Sharon Walpole (the Chief Executive of Not Going To Uni, an organisation devoted to spreading awareness of options other than university to help young people secure a strong future). Walpole warns that graduate intakes for large employers will be reduced when an apprenticeship levy is passed in 2017. This levy will include an investment of £2.5 billion into funding apprenticeship training, resulting in an influx of apprenticeship placements and less room for graduates.

With more and more graduates achieving university degrees, things are only likely to become worse, with more competition, fewer opportunities, and less room for work. Read this article to find out how newly-graduated students are finding life after university, and how successful they have been in finding work

What else can your child do?

Leaving university owing £40,000+ is no way to enter the world of work, and a debt of that scale can be a huge financial and mental burden, not only for the students themselves but for the families who then have to support them. With far less priority now being made for graduate employees, finding work is becoming extremely difficult.

If you are thinking of attending university, and are not 100% certain about this choice, we implore you to consider all the available options. If academia is not your forte - if you are better with physical, hands-on work - then the trade industry might be just what you’re looking for, and Access Training is the best establishment in the UK to train and qualify aspiring tradespeople.

Please give us a call today on 0800 345 7492, and enquire about the courses we have on offer. Our course advisors will be happy to give you all the information you require.

Alternatively, select one of the following options to find out more:

With the discovery that students are being actively discouraged from taking up vocational careers such as work in the construction industry, the CITB are urging companies to take more pro-active measures to ensure that the industry looks more attractive to youngsters.

Their suggestion is for construction firms to start making visits to schools during careers fairs and the like so that they will be in pupils' minds when they are considering what to do once they leave the world of education. Chairman James Wates said that he would like to see 50 employers visit 50 different schools this year, which would "send a powerful message" about the industry and the many opportunities it offers.

"Our industry has to compete with many others for future talent," he said. "We can’t leave this to existing careers advice because we need to reach teachers in order to reach pupils."

Energy suppliers EDF Energy have already begun taking similar measures, working closely with local schools near its planned new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point. They have said they've already reached out to around 35,000 school students in Somerset, creating a variety of exciting activities through a special education programme. EDF have said the results have been "very encouraging", with many students now considering/re-considering a career in the construction industry.

With less youngsters joining the various construction trades and the industry itself experiencing a boom thanks to housing growth and other factors, more certainly needs to be done before the older workforce retires and the industry suffers even more of a skills shortage. Access Training is doing its part to plug the skills gap, offering intensive training courses in a number of construction trades complete with the qualifications required by employers. Our courses are fast-paced, but offer high-quality teaching that easily rivals the longer courses you find at colleges.

For more information please contact our course advice team on 0800 345 7492.

Via Construction Enquirer

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