Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How Choosing Between Higher Education and Vocational Training?

In the current gloomy economic climate, opportunities for employment are severely limited, especially for young people. Thus the issue of what to do when you leave school becomes all the more pressing for today's youngsters - do you go to university to study for a degree, get a job right away, or do some vocational training to prepare them for a specific role?

University used to be automatically considered the best option for ambitious youngsters who wanted the rewards of a secure and well-paid job, but this attitude has started to change in recent years. Each year there are far more new graduates than new graduate roles, so a degree is no longer a guarantee of employment and success.

This increasing scarcity of graduate positions has coincided with major increases in the cost of tuition fees, meaning that even those that do find jobs after graduating are saddled with enormous debts that take years to pay off. These changes have led many young people to reconsider whether university is really the best option for them when they finish their A levels. Many are now looking at the other possibilities out there, hoping to find a more direct (and cheaper) route into the job market.

Employers too have in many cases begun to look beyond university degrees when recruiting new people, placing more emphasis on workplace experience and training rather than academic qualifications.

A recent 2012 survey found that one in five employers prefer school leavers to graduates. Several of the employers who took part said that they felt graduates often left university with unrealistic expectations, and found it difficult to adjust to the world of work. School leavers, on the other hand, tended to be more grounded and more capable of settling into a working role.

So putting aside university, what other options are there for young people who want to increase their employability after leaving school?

One of the most popular options is to do some kind of vocational training. It has the advantage of preparing you for work in a specific role, but this can also be a disadvantage if you train for a field in which there are few job opportunities and your skills are not greatly in demand.

It is therefore vital that anyone contemplating doing a vocational course first does some research into whether or not there will be a genuine chance of good employment at the end of their training, in order that they don't just waste time and money acquiring unwanted skills.

Among the most popular vocational courses currently is locksmith training. The attraction of locksmith courses is that they are relatively cheap (especially when compared with the cost of university fees) and they offer a strong chance of employment afterwards. Locksmithing is one of the few UK industries which has remained strong in spite of the recession, with plenty of jobs to go around for those who are prepared to work hard for them.

1 comment:

  1. I hope that colleges and sixth forms are now more aware of long term consequences of the choice of university/vocational training. I was (10 years ago) told to do what i enjoyed and what i was good at - which, out of the subjects I took at a-level, was English (In hindsight I wish I had taken sciences and then I would be in a whole different career!!). Whilst this isn't a bad subject per se - it has transferable skills for example - but doesn't automatically lend itself to a specific career. This makes it hard when looking for jobs as you have no business knowledge at the start - and for me several years were spent in various roles getting a feel for various duties. There is then a tendency to fall into similar roles. After one role with a marketing aspect, I was then considered mainly for marketing roles after that, which was ok although I still wasn't sure it was what I wanted to do. Eventually after running a few events I decided to take an event management course in London - more to learn about it in greater detail at first, but I then found that this was the career for me.

    If my school career service had given more of an idea of what career options there are, and the sorts of skills required I'm sure it would help us all find the career we want a lot sooner.