New research has debunked the idea that university degrees are superior to Apprenticeships. Over three-quarters of industry employers regard the vocational learning route as equal or preferable to a higher education when preparing people for successful careers.

An independent survey carried out on behalf of EAL, the specialist awarding organisation for industry qualifications, has revealed that 42.8% of employers believe Apprenticeships are equal to degrees for preparing and helping their workforce to progress. A further 28% said they are more valuable.

In particular, the sectors of UK industry that most favour Apprenticeships over degrees include: engineering and manufacturing, logistics, environmental services, and energy and utilities.

The survey polled 500 employers, from large organisations to micro businesses, including managing directors and those responsible for HR and training.

Ann Watson, Managing Director of EAL, said: “This is powerful confirmation that employers hold Apprenticeships in the same high regard as university degrees. In fact the findings dispel the myth that vocational training is a less desirable route into industry careers.

“I really hope young people are encouraged to seriously consider Apprenticeships as a highly-regarded career pathway and equal to a degree – not to mention allowing them to earn a wage while gaining skills and experience and avoiding the debt associated with the university route. The survey shows the high level of esteem in which employers hold Apprenticeships; that is the shift we need to achieve in the mind sets of young people and the wider public.

“Industry Apprenticeships are vitally important in tackling skills shortages, in engineering and manufacturing for example, as well as helping to reduce youth unemployment. Business leaders have been warning Government that serious effort is needed to ensure appropriate technical training for young people is available. This is necessary to develop the advanced level skills that are most critical for industry growth, as well as a route to further learning. The fact that businesses regard Apprenticeships as an important pathway to develop their workforce is great news for learners.”

Gareth Humphreys MBE, HR Adviser for Education at MBDA, a missile and defence systems manufacturer, believes it is important for learners to have a range of options. He said: “There needs to be a variety of opportunities within business today, such as Apprenticeships, NVQs, Further Education and university degrees. We, as a business, need our employees to progress, and having a choice of high-quality structured training pathways is important to that progression.”

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