In a brand new survey, which polled over 300 employers in the UK’s construction industry, statistics highlights what some of us might state as the obvious – education combined with practical training is preferred over theory and a degree certificate. But are they more favourable and does this depend on the industry you are going into, Chloe Bennett shares her thoughts on the topic.
On average the employers polled, rated their experience employing qualified apprentices a reasonable 7/10 for providing ready-to-work young people compared with an average of 5.5/10 for those who arrived with a degree under their belt. These figures highlight that those who have a combined knowledge and practical ability are better prepared for the working world over those that have gained an arguably ‘higher level’ of education in a degree programme. Employers furthered their comments on the poll stating that degree students required extra support and training when carrying out the practical elements of the job.
Apprenticeships provide an incredibly valuable education to a student and a well-qualified apprentice is equally valuable to an employer. Apprenticeships not only provide you with the on hands knowledge you need for the job but equip you with a stable skill which enables you to move into a variety of job roles within the industry concerned. Apprenticeships are very well rounded courses so candidates are able to gain valuable insights into what can be expected of them in the working world.
So what is better for an apprenticeship or a degree?
Certainly where the construction industry is concerned, my personal opinion would be that the apprenticeship route is better suited to those seeking a career in this industry. As a twenty-something holding a 2:1 BA HONS degree myself, I feel that I am able to say this based on my own personal experiences upon stumbling into the professional world. My lack of experience gained in addition to my degree really held me back. Every job required me to have experience in my area of expertise and quite frankly employers were looking the other way when my CV detailed I ‘only’ had a degree to offer. Obviously this wall allows any newly qualified graduate to become frustrated, but experience is so valuable and in some areas like trades some would argue, essential. It might be the difference in gaining that job of your dreams and walking away empty handed.
If you look at it from the view of an employer; what would you prefer? To hire an employee that is able to carry out all the work or has a basic understanding of the work required or to hire an employee that require assistance/support or further training in order to carry out these tasks?
You could look at it like this; one day you decide you need a table for your kitchen, so you pop out and come home with a flat packed kit hoping it will end your past troubles of not having anywhere to eat dinner like a sensible adult. However on opening the box you find that the screws aren’t included. Nipping out and having to spend more money and time than you first anticipated is not quite what you signed up for when initially buying the table was it? Similarly, employers that have to seek further training for their new employees is a cost I’m sure most would strive to avoid. It certainly pays to get the right training for your career.
Obviously I would express that apprenticeships aren’t the be all and end all of education and I am certainly very proud of my honours degree, however you should always make that your educational route strongly relates to your career of choice. For most, if not all careers, it is fair to say a level of practical knowledge and experience is extremely valuable. Even in my experience having gained a reputable degree I still needed the vital experience to back up my knowledge of the industry I specialised in. In this day and age, where job opportunities are hard to come by any level of experience it essential to the employer and beneficial to you the employee. It provides you with that all important practical know-how for the job (which may set you apart from the competition) and helps you to uncover whether you are stepping into a career that you like too.
If you would like any information about the apprenticeships that Trade Skills 4U offers, visit our Electrician Apprentices page which has a guide on all our electrician courses and electrical apprenticeship courses.