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Apprenticeships and university: genuine alternatives?

Apprenticeships are rapidly becoming a genuine alternative to going to university, according to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

Reflecting on the most recent figures that showed record numbers were taking part in apprenticeships, the Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said that it was 'rapidly becoming the new norm to take an apprenticeship or go to university'.

Some 858,900 people participated in apprenticeships last year, a rise of almost 370,000 on the corresponding period two years before, representing an increase of around 75 per cent. Since 2010, more than 1.5 million people have started apprenticeships.

Mr Hancock put the growing appeal of apprenticeships down to the Government's insistence that they should have a minimum duration, involve on-the-job training, and respond to the needs of employers.

The number of applicants to UK universities has also risen this year, with more than 401,000 applicants being accepted on to undergraduate courses shortly after receiving their A-level results. This shows a recovery from last year, the first year since tuition fees could be up to £9,000, when admissions numbers dipped by 17 per cent.

Research has revealed a positive response from employers to apprenticeships, with them finding apprentices 15 per cent more employable than young people with other qualifications.

Careers advisers agreed that apprenticeships could 'provide a genuine alternative to university for those who want to go straight into work'. They said the choice would be largely dictated by an individual's career aspirations and financial considerations. They also pointed out that it's quite possible to go to university having done an apprenticeship.

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