“Throughout my career, some of my best hires have been people who have bypassed the traditional route of university and learned their skills through apprenticeship schemes or alternative education courses.”

So said that celebrated ‘Dragon’, Peter Jones, who has set up many a business, including in engineering. This serial entrepreneur however walks the walk too. Not for him a throw away phrase to boost his reputation.

Having established himself successfully in business, he hasn’t tried to pull up the ladder. His work in the ‘Den’ has shown that, but so has his commitment to education. When he himself finished school, he didn’t go off to university, he set up his own computing business and although that eventually failed he dusted himself down and started again – with great success. Those lessons he’s learned down the years, he wants to pass on to younger generations.

In 2005, he founded The Peter Jones Foundation, a charity to support the advancement of education in young women, particularly through the teaching of enterprise and entrepreneurship. Then, in 2009, he founded the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy (PJEA) to teach entrepreneurial capabilities within the UK at several campuses across the UK.

He also set up Tycoon in Schools, inspired by his TV show, Tycoon, a nationwide youth enterprise competition which began in 2012 which continues to this day under the name Tycoon Enterprise Competition. It’s said that more than 3,000 youngsters have secured a diploma through his scheme some of whom had previously been classed as not in education, training or employment (NEATs).

Why are we highlighting Peter Jones here? This is a man, who clearly sees the connection between education and success, between knowledge and advancement. And more importantly he is a champion of vocational training. And that is what we provide at TTE.

University vs Apprenticeships

All things seem possible in the first month of the year. That certainly is the case if you are considering your future training and career options because there are many routes to take. Deciding what to do when you leave school or college is tough.

Is it straight into work, is it university or is it a combination of learning while you are earning, ie: an apprenticeship? There’s no wrong route to take unless you don’t give it proper consideration. University, remains the most popular option, but as the years go by apprenticeships have become recognised as an excellent alternative, with more and more people choosing this path. There’s a lot to be said for both – university offers lots of degree courses and greater independence from home; apprenticeships allow you to learn and earn, benefit from on-the-job experience and not rack up tuition fee debt.

While there are lots of degree course out there, there are also increasing numbers of apprenticeships too. Decide what matches your career needs and your skills and interests. If classroom work and research is your thing, maybe university’s for you, but if a practical approach to learning appeals resulting in a specific career or sector then an apprenticeship should be considered. Either way, if you work hard you’ll come away with qualifications and they look good to employers for many years to come.

Let’s talk about money

Apprenticeships are cheaper though. If you’re under 25, the government and your employer will fund the training, so you won’t have to dip into your pocket. Degrees are expensive these days – £9,250 per year in tuition fees, on top of living expenses, although you won’t start your repayments until you earn a minimum of around £27k a year.

Now here’s an interesting bit of information. According to research in 2023, the average graduate starting salary with some of the country’s leading employers is £33,500. An apprentice will earn while learning at least the National Minimum Wage for apprentices, so annually that’s between £15k – £30k a year, depending on the training level and the job sector. More research has shown that apprentices can expect to earn thousands more in their lifetime than undergraduates from non-Russell Group universities.

Listen to Peter Jones

And here’s the rub. Employers regard both apprentice-trained people and university-trained people equally these days and more companies and organisations than ever are offering apprenticeships.

It’s not an easy choice to make and you may decide just to start work immediately – you can of course always return to education. Similarly, if you choose an apprenticeship you can still go to university afterwards. But make sure you think about it. It really is worth your while doing some research to discover what each involves and what course of study you might wish to follow. Consult those who are in the know – parents, teachers, career advisers, even the internet. Research is key to help you make the best choice – for you.

While you are here – take a look around. We’re among the best in class at what we do, recognised as outstanding both in and out of the classroom and if you need more information come and talk to us.

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