Why I chose an Apprenticeship over University

07 Sep 2014

In 2012 I finished Secondary School and like most other people my age, I decided to go to Sixth Form as it was the standard route to take. I took four subjects: Computing, Maths, Physics and French but after a year, I wasn't sure if this was really the best option for me. Do I really want to keep learning these subjects for another year, when I know I just want to do Computing?

So I made a decision, to leave Sixth Form and apply for an apprenticeship. It was a difficult decision to make, as I knew that if I didn't finish my A Levels it wouldn't be easy to get into a University if I later decided to do a degree. I didn't really know much about apprenticeships; during my school life everyone was just expected to go to Sixth Form then University and that's the route everyone was pushed to take. After leaving, I had to do my own research, and found QA Apprenticeships. I applied online and quickly received an email to arrange a telephone interview, this went well and I was invited to one of their London offices for an Assessment Day. We had to complete a series of tests and activities whilst being watched by an Assessor, he then collected our results and called some of us back to have an interview in the afternoon. The whole process was very professional, and by this point I knew I had made the right choice.

A few days later, I received a call saying that I had passed the Assessment and would now be sent for interviews. They provided me with some amazing opportunities, and eventually I was offered a job in an IT company called Foration, based in Somerset House.

I learn so much in the workplace and for 11 weeks of year I go to the QA Training Centre where I learn even more, and take Microsoft and City and Guilds exams. So far, I have achieved 3 MTA's (Microsoft Technology Associate) in Networking, Security and Operating Systems and completed various other assignments. I feel that the training I have received and work experience I have had will prepare me a lot better than University lectures would. I also believe that I am much more employable, as I have obtained skills from visiting clients, and dealt with real life situations. None of which can be taught in the classroom.

Another benefit for me, is that I am earning money already and learning how to manage my finances. Whereas if I had gone to University, I would have around £66k debt to pay! To make matters worse, Computer Science graduates are earning less every year, they are earning on average £2,261 less today than in 2007. Instead, I will have earned over £66k creating a difference of over £132k!

If I had decided to stay on in Sixth Form, and take a 4 year course at Uni I would be 22 and looking for my first job. In my current position, I will have 5 years work experience (Due to completing a year at Sixth Form) and multiple industry recognised qualifications! I think I know who I'd prefer to hire, do you?

Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.

(Also featured on the Huffington Post: here)