A Look at Apprenticeships
The wide ranging changes in further education that started in the early 1990’s, are still going on.
Higher education colleges are going the same way of Polytechnic colleges before them, rightly or wrongly, for better or for worse, they are being subsumed into modern universities.
Some, are even granted university status whilst they are free-standing. The drive to give more young people a university type education, has perhaps worked rather differently from its initial concept.
To stop university education being perceived as a portal available only to certain class or even privilege sectors, and allow a wider spectrum of people to experience higher education, was perhaps the concept.
Rather than the school education system raising the standards of school leavers to allow entrance to universities, it would maybe seem that conversely, the standard of some of the new universities have been lowered.
This enabled school leavers of moderate achievement to enter universities. This also began to mean that the maintenance grant system of helping students through their courses could not keep pace with the increase in numbers.
This is when students started having to take government student loans instead, repayable over a period of years, when once in the workplace, and salaries reached a certain level.
The student life is unique and will always suit some, whether with a genuine academic goal insight, getting away from home, or away from parental supervision, or some with a desire to eat cold chilly pasta for breakfast, washed down with a tin of cider before lectures.
The result, from a fiscal point of view, is that mounting levels of debt combined with the likelihood of further rises in university fees, are making the prospect of university far less attractive than it was say, ten years ago.
There is also a recognition that even high ranking degrees, are, in many cases, not reaping the anticipated rewards once in the workplace.
The coalition government, perhaps sensing it in the air, began a promotion which has been carried on since, of the alternative opening to qualification and employment, the apprenticeship scheme.
Apprenticeships allow school leavers to embark on a course which can last from one to four years, with training right there in the workplace. The hands-on work is interspaced with academic style theoretical learning with private training companies, or colleges of further education.
Apprenticeships can lead to qualifications, potentially even to degree level, and rather than incurring debt, actually get paid for the duration of the course.