Thousands of UK students will be heading to university this autumn, but is it really worth the time, expense and years of debt that follow?
A degree certainly can give our youth a great start in their career and can provide a wealth of fantastic opportunities, rewarding salaries and job security for life. However for many young people, who may not be suited to university life or more advanced subjects such as medicine or architecture, a degree and three years at university can come at a hefty price.
However, with the rise in tuition fees in England (£9,000 per year), graduates could end up with a total of £44,500 of debt; that's the 'highest in the English speaking world', and twice as high than in the US.
The added cost of student accommodation, travel, books, food and all else that comes with at least three years of studying at university can put serious pressure on parents and their children to justify the outlay. Total spend for a three year course could end up costing around £53,000.
In these tough economic times, a degree cannot guarantee a stable and rewarding career for our younger generation any more.
In 2015, more than half of graduates ended up working in non-graduate jobs; 58.8% of UK graduates were found to be working in low skilled occupations such as coffee shops, bars and call centres. Only Estonia and Greece were worse off in the whole of Europe; these results put the UK way behind the likes of France, Finland and Germany in terms of degree "employability".
There seems to be an almost 'taboo' among parents which implies that sending your child to university is the right thing to do for them to secure a bright career, but this is certainly not true. There are many other, more suitable career paths for our younger generation which they may not even get the exposure to from schools, career advisers and parents; who often promote the notion that attending university is the best option for them.
There are a number of alternative to university career paths to choose from, which don't necessarily require a degree. These can provide extremely rewarding careers, job satisfaction, high salary earning potential and a 'job for life'.
The high profile trade advocate Charlie Mullins OBE (CEO of Pimlico Plumbers) has gone on record about how skilled trade workers can earn an extremely high wage - however salaries for self-employed plumbers and electricians are more likely be around the £50,000 mark, which is still extremely healthy and highly rewarding.
The UK Skills Shortage
The UK is currently experiencing a worrying skilled trade shortage which is massively effecting the UK's economic growth. Last year, the UK recorded figures of 37,800 skill-shortage vacancies with construction sector employers struggling to fill 1 in 3 jobs because they cannot find people with the right skills.
The need for workers such as plumbers, builders and engineers is the highest for a generation. This invariably increases the demand and cost to hire skilled trade workers; and means that currently self-employed plumbers, gas engineers and electricians could earn up to £100,000, especially in areas such as London which adds weight to Mullins' claim.
This severe problem has resulted in the UK government outlining a plan to create over one million skilled-trade jobs in the construction sector by 2020 to re-invigorate the UK's economic growth.
The UK is crying out for skilled trade workers
In conclusion, there is evidence that there is far more potential at this moment in time to pursue an alternative career path than head down the university route, especially for those having doubts about whether further education is suitable for them.
Download the full infographic below