University VS Apprenticeships: An Apprentice Perspective

NEW figures from UCAS reveal 38.8% of 18-year-olds in England have applied for UK universities this year.

But what are the alternatives? 

As part of National Apprenticeship Week, two young apprentices at Seymour Civil Engineering explain their choice to enter into an apprenticeship.

Name: Luke Bell
Age: 18
Apprenticeship: Management Trainee at Seymour Civil Engineering, studying for a BTEC Level 3 Construction and the Built Environment with Hartlepool College of Further Education

When did you find out about apprenticeship prospects?
“I first heard about apprenticeships through my friends and through speaking to lots of employers, including Seymour, at apprenticeship evenings.

“A lot of my friends were saying that by doing an apprenticeship you get the same sort of outcome as you do from university, but your course is paid for, you’re paid, you’re looked after by your employer and you get your foot in the door of a career. I thought I want to see if that’s for me.”

Why did you choose construction?
“Lots of my family have a background in construction, like my dad who’s a bricklayer, so I thought I might look into civil engineering to see where it could take me. I had no clue what engineering involved before I went into it.

“I’ve still got friends who are doing A-Levels and at the time I was thinking about which route to go down. But A-Levels were my fall-back option if I didn’t get an apprenticeship.”

What are the benefits of your apprenticeship?
“The pay is brilliant, it means, as well as working hard, I can afford to do things socially in my spare time. The debt that you can incur by going to university was a big put off for me. I didn’t want to be in that situation.”

“With an apprenticeship the job is there from the start. My favourite thing about being an apprentice is the ability to be out on-site getting first-hand experience. I feel like I’ve really grown up.”

Why do you think people still choose to go to university?
“I think people have got the same perception that they had years ago- that apprenticeships are more manual and labour intensive, but actually apprentices can be working in offices and things have changed.”

“People my age understand that apprenticeships are great but you’ve got your mum and dad in your ear saying university is more academic. Traditionally people once thought that your earning capability would be higher if went to university, but now I think it could be the same in most sectors.”

Name: Klaudia Robinson
Age: 19 
Apprenticeship: Management Trainee at Seymour Civil Engineering, studying for an HNC in Civil Engineering at Hartlepool College of Further Education

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?

“My sister went into a lab technician apprenticeship when she left school. I knew that was the route that I wanted to follow too. It just seemed more interesting than sitting in a classroom all week.

“I was initially attracted to civil engineering after attending an open evening at college and talking to the course tutor. When you think of construction, most people just think of bricklaying and being on-site, but no-one really thinks about the office-based jobs. When the tutor explained quantity surveying it really interested me.

“My mum was really happy with my decision to become an apprentice and thought that it would provide me with a better understanding of the industry that I wanted to enter into. When my sister started her apprenticeship, friends and family thought that’s different. The perception was that you go to college, then university and then get a job.”

What are the benefits of your apprenticeship?
“The main attraction for me is that you’re getting paid as well as learning. I have friends who’ve gone to university, but they’re always worrying about money.

“You can get the education by doing an apprenticeship. I’m doing an HNC, meaning if I did want to go on and do a degree then I could progress on for another year to turn my HNC into a degree.

“I definitely feel the apprenticeship experience has helped me to mature. It’s a laugh coming into work – it’s not all serious!”



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