Univer­sity is not the only way for­ward

The Jewish Chronicle - - JC SPECIAL - BYEMMAMAY

FOR UK teenagers, univer­sity may seem to be the de­fault — we take GCSEs, A-lev­els, then pack our be­long­ings, say good­bye to our par­ents and em­bark on higher ed­u­ca­tion. How­ever, univer­sity is not the first choice for ev­ery­one. Although fees have risen, a de­gree can no longer guar­an­tee job se­cu­rity. So in­stead of walk­ing across the stage in cap and gown, many school leavers are tread­ing al­ter­na­tive paths. Ap­pren­tice­ships, start­ing your own busi­ness and in­tern­ships are all in­creas­ingly at­trac­tive — not just as a back-up if you fail your ex­ams, but as a real al­ter­na­tive.

Ap­pren­tice­ships are of­ten over­looked and oc­ca­sion­ally looked down upon. How­ever, they al­low you to gain skills in dis­ci­plines such as sales, mar­ket­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion and IT and you will be earn­ing from the out­set.

As any good Jewish boy or girl knows, ac­coun­tancy and law are the sec­ond and third most de­sired pro­fes­sions (af­ter, of course, the holy grail of Be­com­ing a Doc­tor). What you may not know is that you can train as an ac­coun­tant or lawyer with­out tak­ing a univer­sity de­gree. Many smaller ac­count­ing firms pro­vide train­ing places, al­low­ing you to qual­ify over sev­eral years. Sim­i­larly, the Char­tered In­sti­tute of Le­gal Ex­ec­u­tives of­fers a blend of earn­ing and study­ing. You may lose out on long hol­i­days but you will gain fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity.

Job se­cu­rity is a mas­sive mo­ti­va­tor for school-leaver schemes. It was one of the prime rea­sons why Gideon Caller opted for a higher ap­pren­tice­ship. Gideon had strong A-level re­sults and of­fers from top Lon­don univer­si­ties. But his was the first year to pay an­nual fees of £9,000, mean­ing he would leave univer­sity with least £27,000 of debt and an un­cer­tain fu­ture. He ap­plied for a school leaver’s role at PWC and was ac­cepted into the tax depart­ment.

“I have found it hard to watch friends grad­u­ate with strong de­grees from good univer­si­ties and then strug­gle to find work,” he says.

Many high-pro­file fig­ures es­chewed higher ed­u­ca­tion — Alan Sugar, Mark Zucker­berg and Bill Gates all started glob­ally suc­cess­ful com­pa­nies with­out de­grees or diplo­mas. We would still ad­vise all bud­ding en­trepreneurs to gain ex­pe­ri­ence, find a men­tor and seek lots of ad­vice. But if you are self­em­ployed, a lack of qual­i­fi­ca­tions will not be a hin­drance to pro­gres­sion.

There are also a range of com­pa­nies of­fer­ing in­tern­ships to ex­em­plary A-level stu­dents. Val­ued for their fresh­ness and ea­ger­ness, in­terns have a foot in the door and can learn on the job.

And, of course, there is no rule that you have to at­tend univer­sity at the age of 18; you could wait. A choice af­fect­ing the next three to four years of your life should not be made lightly. Go­ing on an or­gan­ised trip to Is­rael, trav­el­ling or tour­ing will al­low you to learn, grow and per­haps even pick up a new lan­guage — a highly em­ploy­able skill.

Start­ing univer­sity is an aus­pi­cious oc­ca­sion and it can feel as if your en­tire school ca­reer is pred­i­cated on the mo­ment when you re­ceive your re­sults and know for cer­tain where you are go­ing to study. But, there are other aus­pi­cious mo­ments — start­ing your first job, earn­ing your first pay cheque, trav­el­ling to ex­otic lo­ca­tions — that of­fer just as much rich­ness and op­por­tu­nity. So ask around, con­sider your op­tions and make an in­formed de­ci­sion about the right path for you. Emma May is head of em­ploy­ment at Work Av­enue. More in­for­ma­tion at the­workav­enue.org.uk

In­tern­ships are one en­try point to the world of work

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.