Rob Schofield, Group Talent Manager at The 5% Club member Balfour Beatty, discusses the options available to school leavers as they collect their GCSE results today.
August. While we enjoy the long sunny days, for many families the month is filled with a mixture of hope and trepidation as they await A Level and GCSE results. For the parent – will my teenager get into the university of their choice, or achieve the grades for college A Levels? For the teenager – will I get my grades? Will I still be with my school friends? What if I don’t get the grades, what happens then?
The dreaded word: university.
As the £9,000 annual fee commences this year, applicants need to be savvier about the courses they choose. Is the £27k debt really worth it? Why is university still seen by parents and students to be the only option?
The university market looks very different now compared to 1992. I was lucky, I had a clear view on what I wanted my career to be, and had been proactive in my work experience to date. I got the grades required, but I also received a full-time job opportunity on a Graduate Programme with Marks & Spencer. My brother, who was graduating from Bristol, was instrumental in my decision making because his future was looking bleak – the recession in full swing and graduate recruitment was at an all-time low. Instead of going to university I chose to go straight into a job.
For those that got GCSE results this summer, new options have opened up for school leavers. The image of apprenticeships being a poor alternative or a low grade role is misconstrued. Having been involved in developing apprenticeships over the past five years I have seen the value in them – not just to the employer but also to the apprentice. Higher Apprenticeships help A Level students that might not have quite made the cut get into their chosen university. Often employers, as well as paying a salary, will pay the employee for their study – leaving them (and their families) in a much better financial situation than had they taken the ‘traditional’ route. It’s a win-win: the employer gets skilled, talented and career minded individuals. The apprentice gets excellent training and development, and a head start for their career.
Schools and colleges are slowly realising the potential of apprenticeships, but experience tells me that parents don’t know enough about the options that apprenticeships can and do bring. For parents with children about to enter the final year of GCSE’s or A Levels, I urge you to read up more about the apprentice route and take a more informed look at what is on offer. The 5% Club is a great portal for parents and teenagers alike to understand the routes of education open to them and as a unit help make decisions as to what is best for them. Ultimately you have to let your child make the decision and support them. Become more informed and open your eyes to all of the opportunities, and remember what was good for the goose is not always good for the gander.