Modern apprenticeships are a genuine alternative to higher education


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For many young people, today marks the culmination of thirteen years of hard work.

Thousands of teenagers will be eagerly awaiting the results of their A-levels, and for a large number of them, getting the grades they want will mean a place at the University of their choice.

However there will be some students out there who will be celebrating their exam results for another reason – a place on an apprenticeship scheme at one of the UK’s best businesses, which will mean they can earn while they learn.

The introduction of the apprenticeship levy earlier this year has made businesses really think about how they can get the most from their schemes. A greater focus on quality has meant many young people and parents are re-evaluating the career choices available to them, and with more and more businesses understanding the benefits of introducing an apprenticeship scheme, the options are many and varied.

Modern apprenticeships offer a real alternative for young people who do not see higher education as part of their future career plans. These programmes are available to everyone, however we have seen some groups receive greater benefits from the introduction of these schemes. Many young people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds may not have the means to attend university nor perhaps want to make the move to study further from their home community - or they may just think that without anyone in their lives who may have attended university before them it just doesn't have the appeal that so many others see. The UK is currently suffering from a skills shortage and the need for more technical routes in to all kinds of business has never been more important to ensure that these capable young people are able to succeed in professions that desperately need their skills.

At KPMG we introduced our KPMG 360° apprenticeship scheme back in 2015 to work alongside our already successful graduate and audit school leaver programme to provide alternative routes in to the profession for those that believe university isn't for them.

We place the same value on both our apprenticeship and graduate schemes because we know both have the opportunity to provide the firm with a first class workforce of the future. KPMG's apprenticeship scheme allows the individual the opportunity to rotate around the firm and find the specialism that is right for them. When discussing our apprenticeship scheme with potential candidates – and especially parents – it is striking how many are not aware that at the end of a successful six year apprenticeship placement the individual is qualified to the same level as those that have been to university and completed our graduate recruitment programme. After six years of study via any route, our apprentices and grads are on a par career wise.

We want to make sure we are a magnet for the best talent, and by offering multiple routes in to our business we are attracting individuals from previously untapped talent pools ensuring we have a future workforce which is diverse, innovative and agile.

I would encourage all young people and their parents to really consider all the options open to them when discussing their plans post a-level to ensure they are working towards the best career for them.