21 February 2018

UKFast apprentices - the choice between apprenticeship and university

Some of UKFast’s apprentices learning while earning.

Imagine this. You’ve paid tens of thousands of pounds. You’ve studied hard and committed years of your life to bettering your education. And you’ve put your faith in an organisation to deliver the skills that you need to achieve your life goals.

Now imagine that institution telling you that they may cancel the pinnacle of all of this effort, commitment and money – your final exams. It is ludicrous. Yet that is what the news is reporting this week.

Top universities may be facing final exam cancellations because lecturers are set to strike over a pensions dispute. Clearly lecturers have a right to be upset and to fight for what they believe they deserve. I can’t help but wonder, wouldn’t they be better sitting around a table and negotiating?

It’s hard to understand how striking at such a crucial time is the best idea. Yes, the threat of it could encourage an outcome faster to avoid the strike but this puts unnecessary pressure and stress on the students.

University challenge

For universities, this comes at a concerning time. With alternatives like apprenticeships growing in popularity because young people can earn a wage while learning as opposed to ringing up a huge debt, universities should be treading carefully right now. The last thing these institutions need is to paint an ugly picture to prospective parents considering their children’s future. It’s bad timing and I believe we will see record numbers of children opting out of uni for the first time since numbers boomed in the Blair years.

As a parent considering where I’d like my kids to go, this sort of behaviour only damages the university brand. With huge numbers of young adults taking up apprenticeships, the universities are heading into unchartered territory. They have a huge impact on young people entering the world of work. We’ve worked with several fantastic universities to help develop work-ready graduates and bridge the skills gap.

It seems that someone, somewhere, is making a huge amount of money out of the universities. Yet it doesn’t appear to be trickling down to the lecturers who are doing the hard work. It’s a real shame that the people at the core of educating these young people feel they have no choice but to strike and potentially jeopardise the young people’s outcomes.

What do you think about the potential lecturers’ strike?

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