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Apprenticeships vs College/University: All You Need To Know

As universities raise their fees, the cost of living rises and many students are stuck with no jobs upon graduating. Students are looking to other routes of education to succeed in their careers.

Should I complete an apprenticeship?

It's a question many of us ask ourselves... Apprenticeships are slowly becoming more recognised as an equal alternative to other forms of education. We agree that there is a lot more information on the internet about apprenticeships nowadays days and many more are opting for this choice over continuing their educational journey. However, we find that apprenticeships still have a HUGE stigma around them which means many are still left with little to no knowledge of alternate routes.

Further education isn't for everyone, although you do have to study for your apprenticeship course, it is still a valuable choice for people who learn better through doing. Apprenticeships adopt what is known as the 80/20 pathway. This is where the apprentice will spend 80% of their time in work and 20% of time doing coursework, lessons or having tutoring sessions. Now we have asked the question about if we should complete an apprenticeship, lets dive a little deeper into the key differences between college and apprenticeships.

Qualification Levels

We have created a side-by-side view to show you the different qualifications you can earn through college/university and apprenticeships. Take a look at the table below:

Skill Level

Apprenticeship Level

Education Equivalence



5 GCSE's at a pass



2 A-Levels at a pass


4, 5, 6 and 7

Foundation degree and above


6 and 7

Bachelor's or Master's degree

As you can see by this table, each apprenticeship is the equivalent to grades you would achieve in school, college and university. You are able to achieve these levels working in a full-time or part-time role. The average completion for a level 3 qualification is around 24 months, whereas to complete a degree level apprenticeship it can take anywhere from 3 - 8 years dependant on which course you choose. These time frames are roughly the same as doing a course in college or university. We would also like to mention that all these qualifications are employer recognised throughout the UK and accredited.

What will I learn?

Apprenticeships aren't just about working; you will also achieve a qualification on top of gaining your work experience. These courses are taught by highly qualified tutors who have been in the same industry. Apprenticeships are specifically moulded towards your style of learning, meaning if you are a more visual learner, our courses will adapt to you by showing more learning videos or having you shadow a colleague.

Apprenticeships help you understand the industry you are working in; they teach you the how's and the why's of the job and give you a more in-depth overview of the role you are working towards. You will be given opportunities to work alongside field experts whilst gaining that ever important work experience so many employers crave.

College and university do give you the opportunity to be more flexible with your future, as you are able to study multiple subjects at once and decide what you want to do once you have completed your courses. Apprenticeships don't necessarily have this option so we always urge you to make sure you definitely want this career before starting. Your apprenticeship qualifications however can take you to different roles within that sector. To give you an example, if you worked as a Receptionist studying a Business Administrator qualification, you may be able to go into a role in HR if you felt you didn't want to continue as a Receptionist anymore.

Money Worries?

We all know supporting ourselves through education can be tough... especially if you are going off to university (trust me I would know!). University costs have been rising over the years and now students are expected to pay a whopping £9,250 per year to attend. Not only that, but most of us will have to fund our way through university paying for things like accommodation, bills and food. This can be a downfall for many because who can afford such costs in a living crisis?!

Apprenticeships on the other hand are free to all learners, not only that but you will be getting paid a wage to complete your qualification. We know apprenticeships have a 'bad rep' for paying under the minimum wage so we want to debunk that theory.

It is true that apprentices can be paid a minimum of £4.31 an hour. The reason for this is because you are not only gaining real life experience, you are also completing an accredited and employer recognised qualification. After a year on your course your pay will reflect the minimum working wage for your age. When we look at things this way, especially compared to university costs, you can see that £4.31 per hour doesn't look as bad. Most apprenticeships nowhere days will also pay higher than the minimum wage. Depending on what level you take, you can also see an increase in salary.


You may have noticed we mention 'employer recognised qualifications' a lot in this article. That's because we want to assure you that taking an apprenticeship is just as recognised as attending college or university! All employers across the UK acknowledge apprenticeship qualifications just as much.

We may go as far to say that some employers favour an apprenticeship qualification as not only do you have the knowledge, you also have the correct skills and behaviours for the job. Most companies who take on an apprentice will offer the apprentice a full-time position upon completion. Sometimes this isn't always the case, but rest assured you will have a higher chance of taking on a new opportunity with your qualification and experience.

Studies show that 85% of apprentices stay in employment after completion of their apprenticeship. 65% of these apprentices stay with the same employer they completed their apprenticeship. The employment rate for university graduates in around 86.7% but these may not necessarily be jobs that graduates are qualified in. Studies show that statistics for both are very similar.

What Would You Choose?

  • Apprenticeship

  • College

Your choice

It will always be your choice on what route you would like to take. Your future should never be decided by anybody else but yourself. We hope that this article has shed some light on apprenticeships and alleviated any concerns you may have had. If you are looking for an apprenticeship, please visit our apprenticeships page for more information alternatively you can visit our vacancies page to find jobs near you

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