The days of a degree guaranteeing a graduate level job are gone; there are, quite simply, too many young people studying for a degree. The percentage is almost 50% compared to 17% in the early ’80s.
Many companies are now reducing their graduate intake and putting energy and emphasis into their Apprenticeship recruitment due to the initiation of the Apprenticeship levy. This is a corporate tax on organisations with 300 employees or more. The levy is designed to encourage the increase of apprenticeship provision and, although it is early days, many big companies are choosing to increase the number of apprentices rather than pay the levy.
We will and should always have the choice about studying a subject for the sheer pleasure and for many young people, this is a conscious decision and they accept that ‘discovering’ which area of work they would like to get into is part of the package. Many young people, however, want to embark on study or training which they know will lead to a job. Finding the balance between a specific training and keeping options open for the future can feel tricky.
Let’s take an example of a 16 year old who really feels that A levels will not suit them, they can’t see the point and can’t identify any subjects they’d want to do. This student wants ‘a training’ but doesn’t want to feel stuck in one thing.
Gaining a level 3 qualification ( A levels or Btec) will keep more options open for future decisions. Choosing the qualification to suit the individual is key. A levels are exam based, academic qualifications. Extended Btecs are course work assessed and often include more practical assignments. A Level 3 Extended Btec passed with 3 star Distinctions has a higher tariff score than 3 A levels at grade A ( UCAS tariff calculator)
Some Btecs have a career focus whilst still offering lots of choice e.g. Construction and the Built Environment https://www.ucasprogress.com/course/2170132/construction-the-built-environment-btec-level-3-diploma.
Uniformed Public Services https://www.ucasprogress.com/course/2165622/public-services-uniformed-btec-level-3-extended-diploma
There are many specialist training colleges such as Plumpton College which offer career-specific courses for example Fishery Management or Horticulture or Metalsmithing.
Taking some time at the age of 16 to consider strengths and interests and perhaps ambitions and then seeking out qualifications which suit the individual can save a lot of stress further down the line. Not all schools and colleges offer a varied choice so more decisions then have to be made about location, friendship groups etc. This can feel tough but not as tough as ‘failing’ the first year of A level study and having to think of Plan B.