Graduates vs Apprentices

TARGETjobs recently held a ‘Graduates vs Apprentices’ talk, at a time where the interest and importance of apprentices is growing rapidly, the areas discussed highlighted the importance of focusing on finding individuals with the right skills regardless of qualification.

Philip Taylor who began his career as an apprentice toolmaker, later appearing on The Apprentice and is now marketing manager for the City of London Corporation’s apprenticeship programme, was a guest speaker at the event.

He spoke of how he felt that the apprenticeship is ‘the greatest foundation that anyone can have’.  He commented on how far apprenticeships have come since he began his and the huge variety that are on offer today, compared to then, make them even more appealing to today’s students.

He also reflected on how the rise in tuition fees has made it unaffordable or undesirable for some talented individuals to pursue degree level education, and the apprenticeship schemes offer a cheaper and more focused route into their chosen career.

Work’s head of research, Marcus Body pointed out that although graduate recruitment remains more robust than the general employment market there is still a 19% unemployment rate for graduates two years out of university; 7% for those who graduated between two and four years ago. He further questioned whether employers’ needs for degree educated individuals is necessary and argued that stricter selection criteria would scrap the need for a degree requirement for roles in many fields.

A graduate on The Student Room highlights how many graduates go into jobs that do not require a degree but are relevant in terms of the experience they offer:

‘I graduated in June and was unemployed until I finally got a job that I started 2 weeks ago. The job pays £12,500 but with the overtime I’m doing it will be probably be nearer £15,000. It also only needs GCSEs but it is related to my degree and I can hopefully find something better when I have some experience.’

Another user argues that apprenticeships aren’t as versatile as some may think, other paid work may be just as useful in terms of experience, and the low pay may be off putting to some:

‘Apprenticeships have their place, they can offer skills and employment to the otherwise unemployable. It would potentially take your career further than part time work, however having the experience from your part time work may help you get into a scheme/job which would further your career without taking on the lower pay. ‘

Marcus Body offered the controversial opinion that apprentices could possibly be ‘the only answer’ to companies, as many graduates move on from roles before having the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

The consequent implications with the rise in apprenticeships for graduate recruitment is another important factor, as well as considering how two streams of graduate and apprenticeship talent are able to enter a business and work together in harmony.

The talk highlighted the many ongoing changes occurring in training and development for young individuals today, and offered some insight into how the job market will change to reflect this.