Many graduates 'leave higher education with unrealistic expectations', says NotGoingToUni's CEO

Young people who go into apprenticeships after their A-levels are three times more likely to be happier in their job than those who attended university, according to a new survey.

NotGoingToUni – a website which shows young people their options outside of going to university – spoke with almost 2,700 people, aged between 21 and 30, to find 68 per cent of those who had taken an apprenticeship were fully satisfied in their career. Of the university graduates, only 26 per cent agreed they were fully satisfied.

The main reasons behind graduates not being happy in their careers was that their degrees didn’t give them sufficient preparation and knowledge of their chosen industry (53 per cent), they didn’t have a good working relationship with their employer (41 per cent), and they felt their job was not related to their degree.

Low salary expectations after three years at university (17 per cent), and feeling regrets about going to university in the first place (14 per cent) made up the other reasons as to why graduates were not satisfied in their current roles.

CEO of NotGoingToUni, Sharon Walople, described how the results of the study followed recent figures released by the Office for National Statistics which revealed how more than a quarter of graduates were paid less than the £11.10 average per hour than those on work-based training schemes last year.

This, she said, indicated a shift in the earning potential of graduates, compared with those who chose alternative routes.

Ms Walople added: “Our study aimed to look less into the financial aspects and find out if there was a correlation between this statistic and the difference in satisfaction levels.

“It certainly seems university doesn’t make for a happier individual, and perhaps points towards the fact many graduates leave higher education with unrealistic expectations of what their degree can offer them in terms of career opportunities.”

NotGoingToUni’s results have come shortly after a National Careers Service study for the Government found 89 per cent of apprentices were satisfied with their apprenticeship, and 85 per cent said their ability to do the job had improved. A further 83 per cent of apprentices felt their career prospects had improved.