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45% of students considering apprenticeships instead of university, study finds

As the range of business apprenticeships increase, offering today’s school leavers the opportunity to learn business skills such as accountancy on the job, almost half of those reviewing their future this year considered apprenticeships as an alternative to university.

Over 1,400 students nationwide, aged 16-19, who were taking part in the ICAEW business skills competition (BASE) regional finals, were asked if they would consider apprenticeships rather than going to university:

  • 45% stated that they had considered it, 42% said they had not.
  • 16% plan to actually follow that path to apprenticeships, whilst 79% elected to continue on to university.

ICAEW director of global student recruitment, Sharon Spice, said, “We are delighted to see that apprenticeships are being viewed as a strong and viable alternative to university in the findings of this study. We believe this is a significant increase in interest on previous years. We would strongly encourage both today’s school leavers, and their parents or advisors, to consider apprenticeships when reviewing options after GCSE and A Levels. 

“The traditional perception of apprenticeships focused on labouring, such as becoming a builder, plumber or electrician. The reality today is much wider, with near limitless opportunities, empowering young people to get their feet rapidly on to a career path that will support them throughout their training, very often leading directly into secure positions on qualifying. It will also allow school leavers to receive a salary, avoid tuition fees, gain professional skills and achieve a good quality of life during training. It also means different types of learners have a choice on how they access the profession, one which suits their learning style and enables them to progress at a similar rate to graduates.”

Students that have followed such paths echo the thoughts of Spice, adding the advantages they have felt in pursuing apprenticeships include travel, team-work and immense variety in their day to day activities, with crucial skills in time management and organisation being developed.

Drew William, an ACA trainee at EY, said, “I chose not to go to university because I felt that getting relevant work experience while studying towards the ACA qualification would stand me in better stead for a career in financial services…  I would also like to work overseas in the future and the fact that the ACA is internationally-recognised means that this will be an option once I qualify.”

Georgie Arthur, now working at BDO, added, “From a young age, I have always loved the idea of having a professional job that would allow me to be independent and support myself. This is one of the reasons why, to me, a higher apprenticeship sounded much more appealing than university… The fact that the scheme would offer me paid work experience, and a quicker route to becoming an ICAEW Chartered Accountant was a great motivator as well.”

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