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.

Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Russell Brand at an anti-austerity march in June
peopleActor and comedian says 'there's no point doing it if you're not'
Arts and Entertainment
Sister Cristina Scuccia sings 'Like a Virgin' in Venice

Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say


Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style

Some experiencing postnatal depression don't realise there is a problem. What can be done?

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery NurseI am currently...

KS2 Teacher

£21000 - £34000 per annum + Excellent rates of pay, CPD, Support : Randstad Ed...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: I am currently recruiting level 3 n...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album