Apprenticeship or University: Which Should I Choose?

This week, 6th-10th March 2017, is ‘National Apprenticeship Week’. 

Hopefully you’ve heard about National Apprenticeship Week at school or college from your  teachers and careers advisors and if you have, you’ve probably asked yourself questions like:

‘Should I do an apprenticeship or go to university?’

‘Is National Apprenticeship Week relevant to me?’

‘What is the best path to take?’

Don’t worry, it’s perfectly fine to ask those questions. We are here to help you explore your options and answer the ultimate question:

Apprenticeship or Degree: Which Should I Choose?

If you’ve applied for University through UCAS; made your choices, received any offers or you are still waiting to hear back, there is no harm in exploring other options during this time. We want to make sure you’re making the right decision for you.

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Did you know there are over 50,000 undergraduate courses at over 395 providers in the UK?
University allows you to specialise in a subject that you are very passionate about. It gives you a structured programme revolving around a core subject and gives you the resources to become an ‘expert’.

If you have a particular career in mind or want to research deeper into a particular area, a degree may be the perfect fit for you. However, don’t be deceived into thinking this is the only way you can get a degree under your belt; Sponsored Degrees, Higher Apprenticeships and Degree Apprenticeships all give you the opportunity to have a job and add another academic achievement to your CV!

Social life

With a whole range of universities dotted across the country, the opportunity to move out of home and set up camp in a new location is very exciting. Being able to move out of your parents house and into halls / student accommodation is a new lease of independence which an apprenticeship might not offer if it’s close to home.

University allows you to meet lots of new people through your course, societies and on campus activity. If you’re ready and motivated to study independently, get stuck into campus life and live by yourself or with peers then university may be the choice for you.


University really throws you into the deep end – you learn life skills which school may not prepare you for! With loans, academic fees, budgeting daily expenses and balancing your studies – there is a lot to take control of.

However, having a lot of responsibility is not a bad thing! You will learn how to be independent faster than an apprenticeship probably would; it truly prepares you for what’s to come when juggling your career, finances and social life.

Make sure you understand how a student loan works, the best way to apply for accommodation and how to make sure you’re fully prepared to board your flight to independence.

Things to consider:

  • Are you passionate about the course you’re applying for?
  • Do you feel comfortable with the location of the university? Are you the kind of person to get homesick? For example do you want to live at home or do you want to live away from home?


Earn Money

Earn whilst you learn. You may well have heard your teachers or parents say this and thought ‘that’s fine, but the salary for an apprentice is only £3.40 per hour’, but often you can earn much more than you might think. For example, the average salary for a Higher Apprentice is £17,534, not bad ey?!

Not only do you earn money whilst becoming qualified in a particular skill, by doing an apprenticeship you won’t be left with mountains of debt. The BBC have reported that the average debt for graduates in the UK is £44,000. The financial benefits of an apprenticeship don’t stop there, apprentices by law also receive paid holiday and can enter into a workplace pension.

Qualification (Up to Degree Level)

If you complete an apprenticeship, you’ll get substantial experience working in a professional environment as well as leaving with a nationally certified qualification.

Apprenticeships can start at level two, with qualifications on offer similar to GCSE’s, and advance to level seven which equates to a university degree.

Fun fact: 71% of apprentices stay with the same employer post-apprenticeship. So the vast majority of you will walk straight into a job at the end of your apprenticeship!

Wide Range of Schemes

Apprenticeships have traditionally been associated with trade industries such as bricklaying and plumbing. There are now apprenticeships available in a much wider range of fields including law, banking and engineering.

Regardless of your career aspirations there is definitely an employer ready to train you for an entry level position at their company.

Network and Meet Like-Minded people

University is not the only place where you can meet like-minded people. Apprenticeships allow the opportunity to meet new people with similarly career focused, with the same aspirations as you.

Apprentices often get the chance to work in a number of different teams across the company. This means you will be able to network with individuals who know the industry well and who have a diverse skill set.

Don’t worry, your social life still exists too! Being part of a wider gives you the chance to socialise in and out of work. This means staff socials, great lunches, annual events and even sports teams!

Things to consider:

Hard Work

There is no denying that an apprenticeship will be hard work, it will mean early mornings Monday to Friday and you will be working and learning all at the same time. However, you will be exposed to

You will also be pushed in an apprenticeship but given plenty of support. This will help to squeeze all of the potential out of you so you can achieve as much as possible which will also help you to thrive and really get a head start in your career!

Highly Employable

Apprentices jump straight into the world of work which means a couple of things:

  • You will be work ready before the age of 21. Even if you are not offered a permanent position at the end of your apprenticeship you will still be highly employable.
  • You will gain job specific skills because you have been trained for a particular role or position within a company
  • By undertaking an apprenticeship you are showing employers how passionate, determined and focused you are on being successful in your chosen field.

So…. Apprenticeship or University?

There are positives to both options however it truly is YOUR decision.

It may seem like University is the most obvious option, however apprenticeships can often offer what universities can and more! By doing an apprenticeship you skip the debt, earn a salary, get years of valuable experience in a professional environment whilst gaining degree level qualifications.

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