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Apprenticeships: a real alternative to university!

Contrary to popular belief, apprenticeships are not for those who “don’t have the grades” to get into University. In fact, apprenticeships are increasingly becoming a real alternative with the rise in University fees and debt as well as some fantastic earn-as-you-learn opportunities currently available to young people.

Apprenticeship training is free and whilst gaining recognised qualifications you would also be earning a wage (bonus!) With the increasing university fees as well as additional living costs, students can end up leaving University with debt of up to £44,000. Whilst there might be some financial support available in the form of loans and bursaries, these aren’t the same as earning a steady monthly income like an apprentice does.

  • The most competitive apprenticeships pay up to £25,000 for a young person to work and study at their company. A coveted place on the National Grid’s engineering apprenticeship scheme pays around £23,500 rising to £30,000 after two years, with a company car thrown into the mix.
  • Typical starting salaries at some of Britain’s best-known brands are around £15,000. This includes first year Apprentices at, for example, Barclays (£13,500), Santander (£15,500), Boots (£15,500) and Grant Thornton (£14,000).
  • These wages tend to rise with each year of work and study. An apprentice at Unilever, for instance, starts on £13,400 but ends on £24,000 by the time they have completed the three-year programme.

Apprenticeships: A Real Alternative to University

Having a degree doesn’t always guarantee you a job at the end either.  Many University students find it hard to start a career once they have finished their course, with graduate jobs being competitive and many looking for work experience as oppose to just qualifications. With an apprenticeship you get to gain both at the same time.

Although there are certain careers which do require a degree, there are a lot of occupations these days which are just as accessible via apprenticeships, for example in the IT sector. If you are unsure about what to do once you’ve finished your GCSE’s or A Levels be sure to have a good look at what would be the best option for you and your career.

Be sure to do your research, you can apply to Universities and Apprenticeship schemes simultaneously so you don’t have to be sure on which to do just yet. Ask advice from those you might know who have done a degree or completed an apprenticeship and consider your own personal goals and experiences to see which would be the best route for you.

If you are interested in pursuing a career within IT, why not avoid the debt and gain some work experience within an IT Apprenticeship? Estio Training offers Level 3 and 4 apprenticeships for those interested in IT Support, Web Development, Software Development or Social Media for Business. Get in touch now by calling 01133 500 333 for more information or email

Amy Smith

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