Technology entrepreneur Lawrence Jones MBE is today calling on teachers, students and parents to examine outdated attitudes towards on-the-job training, calling for an urgent shift in the perception of apprenticeships when compared with university degrees.
Following news that the number of people starting apprenticeships under the government’s flagship scheme has dropped by nearly a quarter, UKFast CEO Jones is urging both parents and schools to see apprenticeships as a viable, if not better alternative to university.
Jones says schools are still pushing university by default, because it’s seen as a more prestigious option, even though it may not be the right choice for many students. Current estimates suggest that more than 50% of graduates are working in jobs that don’t require a degree.
Jones said: “We work with more than 60,000 pupils and students across Greater Manchester and beyond, and held more than 400 education events last year. During these events, we’re hearing that apprenticeships simply aren’t being pushed as a proud higher education option in the same way that university is. This absolutely has to change!
“We see huge opportunities in our industry for apprentices to progress extremely quickly and gain relevant, work-ready skills directly from professionals. On the other hand we also see graduates coming through university who are not at the same experience level and almost need to start again.”
With technology education evolving so quickly, the pace of change is something Jones is all too aware of.
He added: “It is virtually impossible for universities to offer the same level of work-ready skills that apprenticeships can simply because of the rate of change in the industry. New curriculums take time to be approved to ensure that graduates meet the needs of the workforce. Apprenticeships are more flexible and learners are immersed in the tech from day one. The difference is staggering.
“On top of the level of training there’s also the question of debt. If an apprentice earns £16,000 a year for the first two years and then between £26,000 and £30,000 in the third year, which is the case for a great many of our apprentices at UKFast, they are likely to be nearly £100,000 better off than a student finishing a three year undergraduate degree.”
In a bid to further cement its commitment to bridging Manchester’s digital skills gap and promote the value of on-the-job training, UKFast is holding an apprenticeship open evening on the 19th July. The firm opens its doors to students, parents and teachers to hear first hand from UKFast apprentices and teachers about what a career in the tech sector entails.
The firm is also launching a digital marketing apprenticeship, off the back of its award-winning IT apprenticeship programme, recognised by the High Sheriff of Greater Manchester.
UKFast Marketing Director Kristina McGuirk said: “We now run apprenticeship programmes across several subject areas including technical and events, it makes perfect sense to extend that into digital marketing. It’s one of the fastest evolving areas of marketing so on-the-job training in this way is the perfect route to guarantee the most relevant qualifications and up-to-date skills.”
UKFast’s apprenticeship programme is led by a team of former school teachers, who are fully qualified and accredited to deliver the apprenticeship programme on site, end to end. UKFast is equipped to deliver Level 2, 3 and 4 apprenticeships across a range of subjects.
More than 15% of UKFast’s 400-strong workforce is made up of former or current apprentices, just four years after the firm launched its apprenticeship scheme.