Young guns go for it!

Young guns go for it!

Top talent has always been found in universities, as the most academically-gifted youngsters compete against each other for the best roles in their industry. A constant stream of young, capable candidates, graduates represent the freshest, most talented talent.
Is that still true in 2018?
Well, it may be, for now…but the tide looks like it might be turning. The popularity of apprenticeships is rising for the first time since the government’s Apprenticeship Levy.
Given how expensive it can be to study for three years during hard times, some youngsters have decided that it’s not worth the hardship to get a degree, especially when the same qualifications can be earned whilst actually doing the job they want to do. Apprenticeships, once seen as the route into work for applicants less academic, have changed from what they used to be. A way of earning whilst learning, and a good route to finding out earlier rather than later if you’re in the right industry, they’re becoming much more attractive to young people than in previous decades. Maybe graduate vacancies dropping by 8% in 2016 also has something to do their rise in popularity?
Employers are also starting to see their worth. A recent survey by Alexander Mann Solutions, who asked 2000 HR professionals, showed that a third of all businesses view apprentices as a valuable source of talent. Particularly since 28% said they had found it difficult to recruit graduates.
A CBI survey from December 2017 reflected this: they reported that almost half the businesses they spoke to expected to increase their number of apprenticeships in the coming years, with only 4% looking to cut back.
The Apprenticeship Levy initially saw a drop in applications when introduced at the beginning of the current tax year; however, experts predicted this was whilst employers reviewed their staff needs and made longer-term decisions concerning their workforce – taking the opportunity to overhaul their in-house training programmes.
Some people think we should use public funds to incorporate apprenticeships into universities; if only to tackle the skills gaps on the horizon. As Tory MP Robert Halfon intimated: we don’t need more academia. He said, “The labour market does not need an ever-growing supply of academic degrees – there are not the jobs available and, for many graduates, the return on their investment is paltry. There is now an enormous opportunity to rebalance higher education and we must urgently redirect some of the public funding universities receive towards courses and degrees that have a technical focus.” Whilst ‘regular’ apprenticeships represent a viable alternative, the levy looks like it needs to ‘bed in’ before aprenticeships really take the working world by storm. However, the levy doesn’t appear to have affected apprenticeships with a concrete qualification at the end – higher and degree apprenticeship applications rose by 26% compared to the previous year.
It’s not just the youngsters that think an apprenticeship could be a good thing. As people either cannot afford to retire, or choose to continue working because they’re fit and healthy past traditional retirement ages, older workers are looking at apprenticeships as a viable way to swap careers. Mature candidates taking degree-level apprenticeships, once rare, is now quite common. One London university even reports that 71% of their students are ‘mature’ (21 or over).
Skills gaps, certainly, need filling - whether that’s with graduates, apprentices, or just an influx of keen school leavers wanting to learn. That there are alternatives to decades of debt around students’ necks - the outlook for English graduates - must be a good thing, too. Modern apprenticeships have the flexibility to meet an employer’s needs, and provide both hands-on experience as well as theoretical knowledge.
So, not only do university leavers have to compete amongst themselves for the top roles, it looks like they’ll have apprentices to contend with, too.

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