Employers want apprentices, not graduates

Thousands of school-leavers may be harming their job prospects by seeking a place at university this summer.

Results of a poll of more than 500 employers released today reveal that many would rather take on an apprentice than hire a graduate.

"You are typically seeing a faster return on your investment with an apprentice," said Chris Jones, the director general of City and Guilds, which conducted the survey. "They appear to be delivering to a higher level. They pick up the sense of culture of the firm and the workplace quicker."

The findings paint a picture of a return to the days when school-leavers were articled or took up apprenticeships and started earning a wage before returning to some form of work-placed study.

Mr Jones added: "I think a lot of people would say that the target of getting 50 per cent through to university has perhaps distorted everyone's expectations of how they should progress out of school."

Gordon Marsden, the Labour spokesman for Further Education and Skills, welcomed the fact that companies were embracing apprenticeships.

However, he cited another finding in the report which showed that one in five companies thought it would be "too risky" to take on an apprentice in the current economic climate. In the North-west this rose to 31 per cent.

More than 200,000 university hopefuls were denied a place in higher education last year – and experts predict a similar number, if not more, will face disappointment this summer as young people abandon plans for a gap year to beat the rise in tuition fees.

University lecturers have forecast that substantial numbers of young people – particularly from disadvantaged communities – will be put off applying to university from next year for fear of debt. A growing number of firms are launching their own apprenticeship schemes – the latest being Proctor & Gamble, which is now choosing to recruit school-leavers to help handle its finances rather than graduates.

The move has seen the number of applications for jobs more than double from 70 to 160. In January, KPMG said it would be prepared to pay trainees £20,000 a year to cover their passage through university if they signed on to a training scheme beforehand.

Today's poll shows that 52 per cent of those companies which already recruit apprentices believe they offer greater value than hiring graduates.

In addition, 71 per cent of firms which at present do not hire apprentices say they could be encouraged to hire them – and 94 per cent could be persuaded to take more. The companies saying they would prefer to switch to hiring apprentices range from traditional craft firms – employing engineers and draughtsmen – to accountancy, finance and consumer services firms.

The poll's findings have a champion in the Tory MP for Carlisle, John Stevenson, who told a local business forum that apprenticeships had been overlooked for far too long. "I think it is utterly ridiculous and the increase in tuition fees might make people think and encourage certain sections of youngsters to do something different. I think they lost sight of the value of workplace experience and training. That's where apprenticeships come in."

John Denham, Labour's Universities spokesman, said Mr Stevenson's comments had "let the cat out of the bag by finally admitting their hugely unfair increases in fees will mean fewer people will go to university".

The poll is published on the eve of National Apprenticeship Week, focusing on government plans to increase the number of apprenticeships by 50,000 a year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree have recently been awa...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

WORLDbytes: Two-Day Intensive Camera training and Shoot: Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th March

expenses on shoots: WORLDbytes: Volunteering with a media based charity,for a ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 4 Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A school in Tameside is currently l...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn