Sixth form is finished, the A-level results are in and thousands of you will be packing up to further your education at university – but is the tried and trusted academic route really the best way to navigate your way towards a successful career?
A recent study of almost 2,000 graduates revealed that over three-quarters (76%) hadn’t been fully informed about the alternatives to university before leaving school and, of these, more than half (54%) said they would have picked an apprenticeship or vocational training instead of a degree.
So, are there any things that on-the-job learning or vocational training can teach you that university can’t? Let’s take a look.
1. Business insight
This is all about knowing how a business, industry or sector works and understanding of how businesses compete in the marketplace and what they want to achieve through products and services. And it’s something prospective employers love to see evidence of.
Unfortunately, because degree courses are largely designed to cover a broad range of subjects in their given field, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to pick up specific business insights, and certainly not to the level you would in on-the-job or vocational study.
2. Management skills
Although university study is far more flexible than any type of education you will have experienced so far it is, more or less, an extension of school and sixth form – although you’re expected to study independently, you’re still set work by a tutor and will have to complete coursework and/or sit exams.
And so very rarely will you have to take on any managerial-type responsibilities such as making business decisions, assigning and delegating tasks, setting deadlines and leading by example, which leads nicely on to…
There will be times during your degree course when you will be set tasks to complete as a team, but when it comes down to it, you’re only in it for yourself – not only will most of your time studying probably be spent alone, but the final degree class you receive is an indication of you as an individual and your academic ability, not of how well you work as part of a team.
The workplace is often full of conflict - even the most minor difference of opinion must be dealt with in an even-handed manner and so an ability to negotiate is vital to keep things running as smoothly as possible.
And good negotiation can be just as much about getting your own way while making the other person feel positive about the outcome as it is about compromise – the problem is, if you’ve never witnessed office politics or shop floor gossip first hand, it can be difficult to know how to deal with it.
Right now, the job market is arguably tougher than it’s ever been, with more people going for fewer jobs, and so small margins can make a big difference during the interview process. And a recent survey commissioned by the Department for Business found qualified apprentices scored 4% higher on an ‘employability’ scale than university graduates and 15% higher than the average of all other types of qualification.
Still wondering what you can do instead of going to uni? Why not check out our range of training courses and see what The Training Room can offer you.