It can be an extremely confusing and worrying time and young people can feel a lot of pressure about which direction to take.
The Recruitment Queen believes that there is no general “right route” it is all about the right route for the individual. What are your ultimate goals and dreams – do they leave you with a choice?
For some it is a clear decision if you know that the career you want to follow has a minimum requirement of a degree. Or if you know the trade you want to pursue, and an apprenticeship is the clear way forward.
What happens if, like most young people, you are not sure of your final career destination? If you don’t know what you want to do this is not unusual – you are not alone – there are thousands of people feeling the same. We often find when we ask people later in life if they chose their route – many did not. Lots of successful people just took a job and then discovered their skills and direction later in life. Give thought to what you enjoy doing and what you think your strengths are. It is also quite acceptable to change direction in your career if it does not meet your expectations.
Higher education still continues to be the most popular choice but apprenticeships are growing year on year. They are different paths but equally valuable and valid in the current workplace. Apprenticeships focus on training for a particular career, whereby a Degree can focus on a vocational path, or can be more general with no definitive further direction.
If you know what you would like to do, have you researched what your chosen role expects in terms of academic qualifications. Will a Degree be compulsory, would it help, or is it not necessary but maybe something you would like to pursue anyway.Certain jobs like Doctors, Dentists, Vets categorically require a Degree and there is no apprenticeship path for these.
If you know the direction you would like to go in but it does not necessarily require a Degree, then you need to think if the Degree will give you more chance of that career, or is there another route. Give thought to how much you have enjoyed the academic route at school. Do you enjoy learning and feel comfortable about continuing within the educational environment for the next stage.
Many Companies who traditionally required a Degree as a minimum level, now have removed this criteria and look more for the soft skills, aptitude, desire and personality that will work within their oganisations. They now value the importance of a practical approach with great interpersonal skills and the ability to handle challenging and unexpected situations.
If a Company states that they require a Degree but the job would not seem to necessarily need one –you could telephone them and challenge them and use this opportunity to impress them and show that, even if you don’t quite meet the academic criteria, you believe you are right for the job. This way you have differentiated yourself from other applicants and will demonstrate your drive and determination.
So if you do take the Degree route, please don’t believe that this alone with make you employable. A Degree cannot stand alone – make sure you develop the interpersonal skills that an employer will also want to see to give you the job.
Degree Fees can also appear daunting, but you do not have to pay these back until you reach a certain level of income. So, if University is the way you want to go, do not allow the Fees to put you off.
There are many websites that explain the repayment of the loan – this is an example:
There are many options for Apprenticeships so do your research on what is available. Some Apprenticeships can also lead to or involve Further Education.
Apprenticeships can also be appealing as you are earning money while you learn and, being linked to companies, can often lead into jobs when they finish. But, do check out the Employer you are thinking of – ask questions such as what percentage of Apprentices gain employment with them at the end.
Also be aware that, although you are paid, this is usually lower than the legal minimum wage as you are gaining experience and knowledge while working.
Research is showing that public opinion is moving in favour of Apprenticeships with the percentage of people rating a Degree as the way forward, now only marginally ahead of Apprenticeships.
Employers nowadays value the soft skills a person can bring to a Company. They can teach you their systems ……. What they want to see is enthusiasm, a willingness to learn, dedication,….. and interpersonal skills. If you haven’t had any work experience to talk about, think about the tasks and skills you apply in your life. Do you demonstrate organisational skills, leadership skills, punctuality, reliability. Give this some thought to be able to impress a potential employer.
When applying for an Apprenticeship think how you are going to convince them they should invest in you. Research the Company and their schemes so you can show knowledge and ask questions. Go through the job description to see what they want and match your skills.
The website Uni’s Not For Me has lots of interesting information – http://www.unisnotforme.com/