HR · 18 August 2016

A-Level students should consider value of apprenticeships, says small business

A-Level students have been reminded of the alternatives to university
A-Level students have been reminded of the alternatives to university

Small business owners have encouraged young Britons receiving exam results throughout August to carefully consider the benefits of apprenticeships when making decisions about their future.

With AS and A-Level results day falling on 17 August, and with GSCE results day falling a week later on 25 August, small firms have reminded those aged between 16 and 19 years-old of the value of the practical, on-the-job education that apprenticeships offer.

With research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) identifying that 79 per cent of its members would likely hire an apprentice from outside of the business, small firms may represent a more reliable route to full-time employment for prospective apprentices than larger companies.

Acknowledging that for many school leavers, accepting a place at university is still a foregone conclusion, the FSB has highlighted that more and more apprenticeships are now being offered by smaller firms, and that for those youngsters put off by rising university tuition fees and an uncertain employment market after graduating, an apprenticeship can offer a more attractive alternative.

Congratulating young people who are receiving their results, FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: “I look forward to seeing what this year’s school leaver will go on to achieve.

“A-Level results day always brings talk of university places, but we should not forget the value of practical, vocational education to employers and individuals. Vocational training has become an increasingly attractive option for young people keen to earn as they learn, and who may be put off by the uncertain returns of a university degree.”

More than two-thirds of 16 to 19 year-olds enrolled on an apprenticeship programme go on to longer-term employment with their firm, the FSB found, while 24 per cent of the organisation’s members said they were considering recruiting an apprentice in future.

These figures “make an apprenticeship a great way to start your working life”, added Cherry, urging young people interested in finding out more about apprenticeship opportunities offered by small business to participate in the FSB’s live Twitter chat on 19 August.

The government’s apprenticeships strategy is currently being overhauled, with significant implications for small business owners. Earlier this month, apprenticeship funding reform plans were announced that offered a major trade off to smaller employers.

Under the proposal, firms with less than 50 staff that take on an apprentice aged between 16 and 18 will from now on not be required to make a contribution to the cost of training.

Early indications suggest a record number of university places have been awarded to this year’s A-Level students, despite a marginal drop in top grades. As many as 424,000 university spots have been offered so far – up three per cent on the same figure in 2015 – reported admission body UCAS.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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