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Students reminded university is not the only option by business leaders

As thousands of students across the UK weighed up their options after receiving their A-level results yesterday, they were being reminded that university was not the only option.

As of midnight last night, UCAS said 401,540 applicants had been accepted into a UK university or college, a record high.

However, a further 75,710 were holding an offer, while 153,070 were free to seek a place in clearing.

For those who did not get the grades for university, or are not sure whether they want to go, alternatives like apprenticeships are fast becoming an attractive prospect.

Neil Bentley, deputy director general of the CBI, said: “We must tackle the perception that A-levels and a three-year degree alone is the only route to a good career.

“The demand for higher, technical skills will far outstrip the numbers going through the traditional university model alone.

“Universities are now competing directly with firms for the brightest sixth formers. Top quality training, a guaranteed job and no debt is a big carrot for firms to dangle in front of young people.

“Higher education and business need to raise their game by working together to create courses which meet the demands of the economy.”

Recent ICM data showed that employers find apprentices 15 per cent more employable than young people with other qualifications, and rank higher (degree level) apprenticeships higher than degrees. 

Mr Bentley added: “Employers want the right attitude; practical industry experience and decent technical skills. It’s no wonder that many more young people are considering higher apprenticeships and other ‘learn as you earn’ options as serious alternatives.”

However, there are warnings that many students may not have the skills needed to enter the workplace straight away. 

Wednesday’s unemployment figures revealed that youth unemployment has increased by 15,000, leaving one in five (973,000) 16 to 24-year-olds out of work.

John Wastnage, employment and skills adviser at the British Chambers of Commerce, warned it will be tough for many of today’s students to find success in the jobs market.

“Youth unemployment has risen in recent months and it is clear that there are far too many young people whose potential is being undermined because they have not been taught the broader skills required to succeed in the workplace, despite the strong desire of employers to hire and train them,” he said. 

But, he added, those who did not get the right results should not despair.

“Success is not dependent on academic achievement alone, and employers value hard work, a positive attitude, and skills that are relevant to their business. apprenticeships can offer a better route to a highly skilled and well-paid job.”


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