Apprenticeships vs University: the big debate

Apprenticeship or University?

Possibly the biggest question hanging over a student’s head.

After getting your A Level results, you may be confused about the differences in taking University course or an Apprenticeship. The next step may feel daunting. Are you wanting to continue another three years of classroom based learning, or are you ready to get out in the world and earn whilst you learn?

There has been a lifelong debate over which has more benefits and positive outcomes. We’re here to help you weigh out the pros and cons of both!

The pro’s of having an apprenticeship-

The obvious benefit that first comes to mind when a student is considering an apprenticeship is the fact you can be earning a full time wage from day 1. If you’re aged 16-18, the apprenticeship minimum wage is £3.90. However, apprentices aged 19 and over will earn the national minimum wage and up.

Since you’ll be earning from the get go, this puts you financially one step ahead of your fellow uni friends. This also gives you chance to begin saving for the future 3 years before university students realistically can.

Also, let’s not forget to mention the masses of experience you’ll gain during your apprenticeships, something that most future employers find extremely valuable in their potential employees. Having real world experience can give you the knowledge and skills that is incomparable in most job roles.

Finally, the big one; no student debt! Instead of having £9,000 piled on you each year, with an apprenticeship you will remain debt free and also earn whilst you learn.

Pro’s of University-

There’s no denying that you will gain an excellent degree at the end of your university course. There’s many cases where having a degree printed out on your CV will be a certain eye catcher to some employers.

University definitely encourages you to bring out your social side. Apart from the advantages of student nights at clubs, a huge social circle and a party going on somewhere every night, you will gain friends for life.

Also, university pushes you to be independent, with the majority of students moving to somewhere new and living a version of an adult life. It will help you gain the skills of independent living, such as cooking, doing laundry and cleaning (on occasion!).

You will explore your favourite subject to an extremely in-depth level, learning everything there is to know.

Cons of having an apprenticeship-

One of the cons of choosing the apprenticeship route is losing out on the varied and consistent social life university has to offer. Working full time could mean you have to miss out on meeting up with friends or going to an organised event. However, this might not be a negative factor to some people; not everyone is a party animal!

Many apprentices are paid less than their colleagues. It’s a controversial topic at the best of times, the apprenticeship minimum wage can be an off-putting factor to many people.

The competition to get a place on an apprenticeship is in no doubt tough. With 375,000 people starting an apprenticeship in 2017/18 (credit: parliament u.k) you can imagine the amount of people applying to them. Making sure your CV and application are perfected is a key factor in being noticed when applying to an apprenticeship.

Finally, there is a lot of pressure to be highly thought of and keep up with the demands of the workplace. Whilst some people thrive off the challenge of adjusting to a new workplace, others find it overwhelming, especially at a young age.

Cons of university-

There’s no doubt that when leaving university, you also leave with a lot of debt! Over a three year undergraduate course, you can rack up £27,000 in debt.

After you’ve finished university, there’s no guarantee of a graduate job. According to the Office of National Statistics, 50% of newly graduates were working in a non graduate level job.

Whilst some university courses offer placement years where you gain a year plus worth of work experience, many courses don’t. This means you won’t gain any real life experience in a working environment, which could stump your ability to succeed in a job after graduation.

Then there’s the realisation halfway through your university course that you no longer want to take the course and have decided to drop out of uni. Whilst it’s your choice on what path to take, you will still be expected to pay a percentage or the entirety of your tuition fees.

Lastly, you will be starting your “adult” life a minimum of 3 years later than people who didn’t attend university. This is a hazy topic, but people who chose an apprenticeship route could have been saving up for 3 years for their future, or perhaps be renting or have moved out to a new place. Whilst university students can still save from part time jobs they may have, working in a full time apprenticeship definitely gives you the kick start to saving for the future.

Now we’ve taken a look at the pros and cons of university and apprenticeship, how about looking at the pro’s that both options share?

Shared pros of university and apprenticeships-

You will become an expert in a subject you love. Whether you choose university or an apprenticeship, you can guarantee you will be trained to know anything and everything about the subject you choose to study or work in!

With both options, you’ll meet people who will greatly impact you, guide you and give you a helping hand. If it’s your university professor or apprenticeship assessor/colleagues, you’ll always have someone to turn to if you need guiding through something.

Finally, you’ll gain transferable skills from both options. In both university and during an apprenticeship you will learn how to think critically, problem solve, work independently, be a part of a team and work professionally to deadlines.

If you’re considering an apprenticeship, take a look at the list of apprenticeships we offer with employers-

Credit: AAT,, Rate my Apprenticeship,, Which?News, BBC News, SuccessatSchool, Career Addict, Coburgbanks