Compared with international competitors the UK has been slipping back in terms of the numbers of people going to university. It’s not that the UK has fewer graduates, the number has risen year after year – it’s that the number has not increased as rapidly as other industrial nations.
Between 1995 and 2008, the proportion of young people going to university doubled – from 20% to almost 40%, and has continued at a similar rate. It’s moved from a minority activity to a mainstream expectation – a gateway to middle-income employment.
But does getting a degree (and for most a significant debt afterwards) guarantee anyone a good job, or even the job they want?
If someone is looking for a career where a degree is essential, such as a doctor or lawyer then the answer is almost certainly “yes”.
For many careers however, experience or a vocational qualification will still open the door to a role with above average earning potential, and will not leave you with a massive student loan to repay.
Accountancy is a good example, by joining a company at 18 you can study AAT, and grow your skills and experience, rising to a similar level as the person who joins having left university.
Engineering roles are similar with mechanical, electrical engineers and service engineers being very much in demand.
IT; again a massive growth industry where apprenticeships have been the start of some very successful – and high paid – careers.
Recent research suggests that nearly 60% of graduates feel they could have got their current job with a vocational qualification instead of a degree.
So before committing; it’s worth looking into other options before setting down the path of applying to university. Is it a career specific degree that is required, or studying a degree to acquire a certain level of qualification?
A degree isn’t always necessary to get a good job. There are lots of opportunities out there that don’t need a degree – and vocational qualifications can be much more relevant to the “world of work”. With so many people still looking at repaying student debt, it can even be the cheaper option.