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University or apprenticeship

(5 Posts)
Notretrojustold Sat 07-Jan-17 16:10:06

DS is 16, will be 17 in September so this is his important GCSE year. His predicted grades are excellent, all A*, A and B - his option subjects are triple science, geography and IT. He's on the more able and talented programme.

This term he needs to decide if he's taking A levels or perhaps diverting off to a college or vocational course. He's a good kid and will happily chat to me about his options but unfortunately he's a bit directionless. At the moment he doesn't think he wants to go to university. He likes the sound of an apprenticeship (the thought of earning money has turned his head a little I suspect). I work in manufacturing and could probably get him on an apprenticeship doing Electrical engineering at my place of work, a large international organisation. He thinks he may like that and I could arrange some work experience beforehand for him to help decide.

Whilst I'm trying to stand back and allow him to make his own decisions I can't help but be a bit worried that whichever way he goes he may not make the right choice - who knows? I crystal ball would be nice!
If he goes to uni he may come out with a degree but struggle to get a job, if he does an apprenticeship would he be limiting his future options and tying himself down to working locally and in a factory, getting dirty etc.

Will he miss out on the fun of uni? On the other hand with an apprenticeship he'd be earning, could get a car and would probably grow up pretty quickly being in the company of men etc.

What are the thoughts of apprenticeships now? They seem to be becoming more popular again which is great but I do wonder if he'll be closing off his future chances by taking what seems to be the easy option.

Any thoughts? Anyone else in a similar position with their children?

MiladyThesaurus Sat 07-Jan-17 16:14:31

He can always go to university later in life if that's what he wants to do. There is the potential to work towards a degree level qualification as part of some apprenticeships too.

Vocational qualifications and experience may well lead to a better paid job than many degrees. So don't think of it as a lesser route or an irrevocable decision to turn away from the HE route.

TeenAndTween Sat 07-Jan-17 17:13:54

Couldn't he do A levels (to keep options more open now), with a view to then either doing a (higher) apprenticeship OR university later?

And in case you haven't realised, you have omitted the 3rd option of BTECs. If you do well at your vocational BTEC you can still go to university (though you will have closed off a number of options by choosing BTEC over A levels).

TotallyEclipsed Sun 08-Jan-17 01:06:03

There are some good advanced apprenticeships in engineering that are designed for post gcse, pay quite well, last 3-4 years and lead to BTEC A-level equiv qualifications and NVQ with maybe HNC or possibly a foundation degree as well on some of them. On some you spend a fair bit of time away from home too, so some similarities to uni, but definitely more regimented business-like environment than uni.
It's not an easy route, studying for all that while working at the same time and I think the end result gives rather less flexibility of career than the more traditional a-levels and a degree, but is good if you are sure it is the area you want to go into.
Topping up to a full degree after is possible, but a lot of work to do part time and there are funding implications to do it full time once you already have an hnc or above.
As well as the very significant initial financial advantage, the employment experience does confer an advantage getting a permanent job too. But, it does probably make longer term career advancement trickier. In engineering for example it would be much harder to get to chartered status from an advanced apprenticeship (would need degree top up to masters level +other hurdles, which would be a huge commitment to do part time whilst working), so might limit his career later. That said, an HNC +experience opens doors to quite a lot of jobs in engineering, and companies that have made that investment in you are very likely to keep you on at the end of your apprenticeship unless you have messed it up quite badly. It's a lower risk of failure than doing a degree.

senua Sun 08-Jan-17 16:36:35

I agree with TandT : do A Levels and then review the situation again then. There's a lot of growing-up and mind-changing do be done in those two years so don't block off options / go down a route too early.

Here's an interesting quote from another thread. I appreciate that they are talking about The City but it may also work for big engineering companies too. "We have both apprentice and graduate programmes where I work in the City and the graduates are always fast tracked over an apprentice. It is not that the apprentices won't get there in the end but we would not attract quality graduates if we didn't fast track the good ones."

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