Apprentices v Graduates: Do employers really value apprenticeships?

Do employers really value apprenticeships and experience over degrees? Three graduate employers talk candidly to Ruth Sparkes, editor of Future Mag, about how they view apprentices vs graduates

Catherine Lloyd, head of training and development at engineering company Renishaw

This year we’re hiring 68 apprentices and 82 graduates. Honestly? Both are essential to our company – both can build careers here. If you join at 16 and progress, it might take slightly longer to reach degree level, if that’s what you want. If say you choose to stay at level 3 – a technician’s role for instance – your career will take a different path but it doesn’t close any doors. We’re looking to launch a degree apprenticeship this year.

Teresa Payne, Partner and Head of People at accountants and business advisory firm BDO, which offers apprenticeships and graduate programmes

Many apprentices and graduates begin from our summer school or internship programme and no matter which route a candidate takes, the opportunity to develop and succeed here is equal.

Most of our trainees are able to work towards a level 7 qualification which is equivalent to a master’s degree, and are given equal levels of responsibility and progression, dependent on their year of study. We’re huge advocates of both routes – a number of our partners and leadership team didn’t go to university themselves. This year we plan to recruit a record number both graduates and apprentices across our 16 UK offices.

Bethany Fearn, recruitment firm TMI Resourcing

We work with a number of both graduates and apprentices. My genuine opinion is that your level of education doesn’t necessarily matter – it’s your level of experience and that can be obtained both through apprenticeship programmes and degrees. We look for the candidates with drive to do well, rather than background or education. Apprenticeships have a different level of training as they gain experience in their years of studying that certainly provide transferable skills when moving on work. But university students show dedication to a subject and often gain a very good knowledge of their field both academically and through the work experience placements they’re likely to undertake whilst studying.

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