Graduate Blog

Employers Opting for Higher Apprentices rather than Graduates


fairAccording to a new survey, the majority of employers favoured a “higher apprentice” as opposed to a graduate. On an employability scale, qualified apprentices finished 4% higher than graduates from university, and 15% higher than other alternative forms of education.

Commissioned by the Department for Business, the survey found that those who had undertaken a higher apprenticeship, which involves education alongside work-based training, were 25% more employable.

The survey asked 500 employers for their opinions on the employability of school leavers, university graduates and so on; evaluating those programmes where “higher apprenticeships” are available. These include Contact Centre Operations, Agriculture and Life Sciences and “Work based learning for Practitioners”. Available in a total of 41 different subjects, these higher apprenticeships will be available for those leaving school this year.

The survey asked employers to rate how employable they thought candidates were depending on the qualification they had, with 10 being the most employable and 1 being the least.

University graduates came second with a score of 7.58, whilst higher (or degree-level) apprenticeships had a total score of 7.98. Those who only had GCSE qualifications were ranked the lowest with a score of 5.14.

Available in sectors such as public relations, management consultancy, science and engineering, a range of businesses offer higher apprenticeships, which entitle a student to earn alongside studying for a qualification at degree-level.

The schemes which began in 2009 saw just 3,700 participate last year, but the government hope that with more publicity there will be an increase to approximately 25,000. The scheme was initially introduced to show employers that doing an apprenticeship was a legitimate alternative to going to university.

Speaking about the benefits of apprenticeships, Skills Minister, Matthew Hancock suggested that by undertaking an apprenticeship a candidate could increase their lifetime earnings by over £150,000.

Executive director of the National Apprenticeship Service, David Way, commented that the apprenticeship scheme was, “a great example of how apprenticeships are changing to reflect the world of work and the even higher level skills needed by employers.”

“They can provide young people with a nationally recognised work-based route into professions that have traditionally been the preserve of graduates.”

Many well-known companies are now adding apprenticeships to their companies, with PricewaterhouseCoopers taking on 31 apprentices last year.

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