In recent years, the rate of young people applying for university has increased dramatically. As of 2011-2012, 49% of all 18-year-olds attended university - the highest level recorded to that date.
Image source: Kit via Wikimedia Commons
Although this number fell from around 1,100,000 to around 975,000 in 2012 due to the substantial increase in tuition fees, the UK’s university graduate intake has slowly risen again, touching on the 1,000,000 mark in 2014-2015. Even so, university remains the most popular route into the working world for young people.
But at what cost?
With so many young people going to university, many industries and trades are bearing the brunt of rapid decline in growth, despite demand remaining just as high, if not higher.
What’s more is that university seldom fulfills the expectations of those attending. On average, around 24,840 UK graduates per year are employed in admin, secretarial jobs, office jobs, or as waiters, bartenders, road sweepers and self stackers, and 58.8% of UK graduates end up in jobs not related to their degree. Given that 26,000 students dropped out of university in 2013/14, it might not be all that it’s cracked up to be.
Read more: I’ve Dropped Out Of University: What Can I Do Next?
A perhaps more concerning statistic is that over 16,700 students are unable to find work six months after leaving university; despite teachers, parents and perhaps students themselves preferring university as the ‘safe’ option, these figures suggest otherwise.
If you are among the growing number of school leavers and students who feel that university might not be the right choice, read on for 5 alternatives to university that you may wish to consider.
1. Apprenticeships & Traineeships
If you’d prefer not to pay the thousands of pounds for tuition fees at university, but still need to acquire valuable skills and qualifications, then an apprenticeship or traineeship might be the best route for you.
Apprenticeships and traineeships are very good alternatives to university. They give you the opportunity to experience the world of employment, whilst earning a decent wage; you’ll also gain a qualification on completion.
In essence, it’s like paid work experience in your chosen field, and one which will greatly increase your employability. Combining valuable work experience and training will give you the necessary skills to start your chosen career path.
Today, apprenticeships and traineeships are not restricted to the traditional trade routes alone - they include a vast range of careers, from engineering to accountancy, publishing to veterinary science.
Read More:10 highest paid jobs that don’t require a degree
2. Gap Year
If you’re still undecided about which direction you want to take by the time you finish school, there is no need to despair. People don’t always know for sure what it is they want to do, perhaps not until years later.
Gap years are an increasingly popular choice for people in this situation. Taking time to consider all your available options, give yourself a break from education, and perhaps get some life experience working or travelling, can certainly be beneficial.
It might also be an opportunity to gain new qualifications in your spare time and enhance your personal statement or CV to improve your employability.
3. Get a Job
Not everybody is destined for an academic route. And it’s perfectly acceptable to hop off the education train after your GCSEs or A Levels and head straight into the working world.
If you aren’t interested in an academic future, but would much rather get your hands stuck in, the last thing that’ll appeal to you after finally leaving school is... well, more school
A good option for you could be to cash in on the qualifications you’ve earnt at your time in school and begin your working life at 16 or 18 years old. If you have the right attitude and are hard working, you could find yourself moving from rung to rung on the career ladder in no time.
4. Studying Overseas
Why not combine a gap year with a university experience and study overseas? If you are excited by both the idea of travelling and learning, this might be the way to go.
With several overseas studying schemes available to students, this option is increasingly popular. It is considered favourably by employers, who feel that such students are often flexible and culturally mobile, which can set you apart from other employees.
Alternatively, you could study overseas as part of your course, if not for the whole duration of it. Many courses today offer a year’s placement in another country which could provide both a hugely beneficial insight into your study, whilst providing you with those experiences which come with travelling.
5. A Career in the Trade Industry
Not everybody wants to continue down the academic route after school, and the trade industry is an excellent alternative to higher education.
Tradespeople such as plumbers, electricians and gas engineers are thriving off the skills shortage that's currently plaguing the industry. As a result, the trade industry is set to boom.
In addition to this, with a rapidly rising UK population and huge housing and road developments proposed for the future, tradespeople are virtually guaranteed a healthy, stable and rewarding career.
With a huge workforce needed to make these developments happen, as well as the maintenance and installation of appliances for years to come, a career as a tradesperson could be the perfect for you.
Become a Fully-Qualified Tradesperson with Access Training
If a career in the trade appeals to you more than going university, take a look at the courses available at Access Training today.
With the help of our experienced course advisors, we can put you on the right path to a successful, fulfilling career. Talk to us today for more details.