The Year Of The Engineer – The Decade Of The Apprentice
2018 has been hailed as the ‘Year of the Engineer’ by the UK government, an initiative looking to change the way people view engineering as a career and, encourage more to take a second look at engineering as a career choice.
With engineering contributing 10% of the British economy, with a further estimated 10% in gross added value, there is much to be said for the Government’s recent push in the engineering sector.
School of thought
Despite the Government’s new initiative, figures show that over a quarter of British engineering graduates are forced to take unskilled or non-relevant jobs on leaving university, simply because the engineering roles that they seek are not available to them. It’s easy to understand the frustration and disappointment of failing to find work in your chosen industry after years of poverty and hard slog as a student. With other figures showing that 31% of graduates in all fields are not in graduate – or high skilled – jobs, it begs the question, does it pay to go to university?
Although a university education can be useful – and, in some sectors, essential – the downsides often outweigh the benefits.
Money’s too tight
Most students, even those with part time or Saturday jobs, live, by necessity, on a shoe-string whilst studying – the idea being that, their shiny new degree will net them the big bucks when they move into employment. Unfortunately, new figures show that some students are graduating university with up to £50,000 of student loan debt which can take, on average, 10 years to repay – much longer in many cases as graduates take on low-salary roles.
By the book
Those graduates lucky enough to find employment within their chosen sector often find that much of their university learning has little relevance in the actual job – which means that they then have to start learning all over again!
A better way
Engineering is one of the key sectors in the UK which welcomes apprenticeships. Combining learning with on-the-job training gives candidates a much more rounded – and practical – grasp of the job and provides experience that simply cannot be gained from a classroom.
Unlike university students, not only do apprentices have no tuition to pay but, they also earn whilst they learn; in many cases, apprentices are viewed in the same way as regular employees and are paid a salary and benefits during the scheme.
Let’s get to work
Employers within the engineering sector are usually reluctant to let go of talented, reliable workers – which means that a high percentage of apprentices are offered permanent roles on completion of their apprenticeship; unlike students who are forced to jostle for a small number of available positions.
Ultimately, nobody can tell you whether university or an apprenticeship is the right career route for you but, it’s worth knowing all the facts before taking the plunge and committing to the next three years of your life.