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Study. Learn. Earn. - Apprenticeships vs University

Study. Learn. Earn. - Apprenticeships vs University



The diverse world of education, careers and student pathways is fuelled by activity and developments. Among these new developments apprenticeships have now been given a 21st-century reboot, with the most significant change being the increasing number of degree apprenticeships available.

In 2017 the government introduced a scheme known as the ‘Apprenticeship Levy’ to help prompt students to take a different academic route as well as supporting businesses to invest in their workforce. The Government’s primary aim is to increase the number of apprenticeships nationwide, pledging to create over 3 million new apprenticeships by the year 2020, in the bid to broaden the depth of UK talent and skills.

The levy isn’t just for students, business owners are now able to up-skill their workforce by introducing fresh talent into their businesses, a study that was conducted by the Department of Education has revealed that most companies after hiring an apprentice have seen productivity growth and higher returns on investment.

Benefits of an Apprentice

  1. Productivity Growth - New apprenticeship standards empower employers to train Apprentices to meet the needs of the business: improving efficiency, reducing waste, increasing return on investment.
  2. Developing Future Leaders The Levy tackles concerns over the ageing workforces by providing opportunities for existing employees of any age to develop their potential of becoming future leaders.
  3. Technical Skills - Apprenticeship training perfectly addresses the skills gaps which many businesses fear will hamper their growth.
  4. Financial Incentives - There are financial incentives available to help employers develop their workforce or recruit new talent.

"Apprenticeships are a key part of creating a stronger and fairer economy, where people of all ages and backgrounds can fulfil their potential; helping employers address skills shortages, upskill existing workers and attract new, diverse talent." - Media Planet

Apprenticeship qualifications are now being recognised as an equal alternative to a Degree, since 2014 over 56,200 workers have enrolled on a higher level or Degree equivalent apprenticeship, as they are able to study a wider range of courses that offer qualifications equivalent to foundation and full masters’ Degrees. With the evolution of apprenticeship qualifications expanding, the Department of Education has marked this as a cornerstone in the development of apprenticeships; but there’s still much to be revealed about how the newly listed qualifications will sit within the current education structure.

The pressure of deciding what route to take when starting your career can be daunting, and one of the biggest decisions of your life, if you are wanting to start a career within a professional industry such as; accountancy, legal or third party you are probably debating whether to study at university or as an apprentice.

The main benefits:


  1. You Have Access to More Specialist Jobs – Degrees aren’t always necessary to get a job, with more employers nowadays giving more value to work experience than qualifications, a Degree can act like a passport to more specialist jobs that you would otherwise not be able to pursue without.
  2. Increase Your Earning Potential – The latest report conducted by the Department of Education has released market statistics that show the working age graduate (16 to 64-year-olds) earn almost £10,000 more than their non-graduate counterparts, with some on an annual salary of £32,000.
  3. Developing Transferable Skills – Studying at university isn’t just about getting a Degree, it is also about developing and building key skills that will help you succeed further down the line in whatever career path you choose to follow.

Key Transferable Skills

  • Conducting Research
  • Writing Essays & Assignments
  • Working Under Pressure
  • Meeting Deadlines
  • Giving Presentations
  • Working within a Team
  • Managing Time Effectively
  1. More Employable – Being educated to a Degree level makes you more employable – in fact, the employment rate for non-graduates aged between 16 and 64 was 3% higher than for graduates in 2016 and 3.8% higher than postgraduates, according to the Department of Education


Apprenticeships have been labelled as the ‘easiest, fastest and most secure route’ to take when starting your career but that’s not all an apprenticeship offers.

  1. Structured Training – Apprenticeships are structured educational programmes that give you a chance to work towards a qualification of your choosing, whilst helping you gain the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in your chosen industry. Starting employment earlier means you have more potential to progress within your career as well as earning a salary.
  2. Experience – You are given the autonomy to gain relevant working experience in a professional environment and this shows potential new employers that you can ‘hit the ground running’. Hands-on training gives you a real advantage to put your skills into practice, helping you gain the confidence in a working environment.
  3. Earn while you learn – When studying as an Apprentice you will be paid to learn the key skills you need to develop in your industry, with the government covering the costs for your training. You’ll have no student loans, no tuition fees, and, hopefully, no debt. Also being a student without a degree, you will be eligible for apprenticeships that involve qualifications such as AAT, ACCA and ACA – something a Graduate must normally pay for once graduating.
  4. Choice – There are over 400 different types of apprenticeships to choose from, so if you’re hankering to follow a career in business management, sport, marketing, accountancy or engineering, there’s something for everyone.
  5. Varied Learning – Being an Apprentice means you won’t have to spend all your days studying, you will get hands-on experience; most of your time will be spent working at the company you are employed at. Some apprenticeships are completed solely at your place of work and others require you to study at college for a couple days of your working week.

Studying for a Degree or an apprenticeship has been a long-running debate with both offering their own added benefits, but choosing your next educational move requires careful consideration. Higher education does continue to be a popular option despite the rise in tuition fees and student debt.  

At Sewell Wallis we work with Graduates that have just finished their Degrees in Accountancy and help them get into work. We work with a number of Accountancy and Finance firms that offer study support, meaning you can achieve your AAT, ACCA and ACA qualifications much faster than most other graduates.

If you are a Graduate looking for a role within Accountancy or Finance please contact us on:

Leeds: 0113 242 1200 Sheffield: 0114 268 3313 Email:

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