Apprenticeships vs University: Research reveals a South West generational split as students disagree with their parents ahead of the release of A-Level and GCSE Results

By Jamie Hill - 17 August 2023

College & Higher EducationSecondary
  • Jonno Todd, an apprentice from the Amazon delivery station in Swindon

    Jonno Todd, an apprentice from the Amazon delivery station in Swindon

Swindon apprentice shares his story ahead of the release of exam results

  • Jonno Todd, an apprentice from the Amazon delivery station in Swindon

    Jonno Todd, an apprentice from the Amazon delivery station in Swindon

Parents and their children in the South West are divided over whether university or an apprenticeship is the best next step towards a successful career ahead of the release of A-Level and GCSE results, research commissioned by Amazon has revealed.

The study found 87% of parents in the South West believe an apprenticeship would provide their child with a good chance of getting a permanent job, compared with 65% for university. The YouGov survey also revealed 85% of parents in the South West thought an apprenticeship provided good earnings potential, compared with 74% for university education. 

However, students from the South West disagree with parents, with 90% believing university provides good earning potential compared with 69% for apprenticeships. Degrees came out on top for providing a good opportunity to get a permanent job (88%), compared with an apprenticeship (78%).

For those who do choose an apprenticeship as their next career step, Amazon provides opportunities for upskilling and retraining for people of all ages, at all stages of their careers, offering schemes in a wide variety of areas including engineering, cyber security, broadcast production, and operations management.

One person who has taken the next step in his career with an apprenticeship is Jonno Todd, an apprentice from the Amazon delivery station in Swindon.

Jonno Todd works at the Amazon delivery station in Swindon as a Team Lead and is currently studying Operational and Departmental/Chartered Management degree through the Amazon Apprenticeship programme. Jonno started his apprenticeship degree in 2022 and is due to complete the programme in 2026.

When Jonno left school, he hoped to become a pilot in the Royal Navy. However, due to several circumstances, he couldn’t complete the application process. Jonno heard from a friend that his local Amazon delivery station was recruiting, so he decided to join the company with the aim of climbing the ladder.

Jonno worked in the role for under a year until he learned about the Amazon Apprenticeship programme and decided that it was a great opportunity to build on his confidence and create opportunities for his future.

Jonno is starting his second year on the programme and highlights networking opportunities as one of his favourite things about being an apprentice at Amazon. “I get to attend events such as Future Leaders UK and speak to school leavers to tell them what it’s like being an apprentice and about the benefits of apprenticeships,” he said. “Thanks to my role at Amazon, I’ve also been able to join the Apprenticeship Ambassador Network (AAN). This gives me further opportunities to talk to young people about their futures and how an apprenticeship can help them build and further their careers.” 

To anyone considering joining the Amazon Apprenticeship programme, Jonno said: “Be confident. Confidence is key when coming into any form of working environment. You are there to learn, so give yourself time, but also be confident in your ability and back your ideas. I think it’s very important to have your own ideas and bring originality to the table, Amazon appreciate out of the box thinking.”

The Amazon apprenticeship scheme launched in 2013 and, to celebrate the 10th anniversary, Amazon is partnering with Apprentice Nation, a career development and entertainment platform, to produce an event featuring Cat Burns, the BRIT-nominated, double-platinum-selling South London artist. The mentoring event will support students as they decide the next step on their career path. More than 200 people will be invited to the event in September where Cat will play an exclusive, one-off gig.

Cat Burns is a BRIT-nominated, double-platinum-selling South London artist, Cat said: “I think it’s really important for people to be proud of themselves, whatever their situation or background. There’s a space for everyone in this life - you just need to be able to carve out your own path. Through my music, I want to keep on inspiring others to create their own journey in life and to shape their future. Everyone has gifts.”

She added: “Apprentice Nation offers youth the opportunity to do this and I’m excited to be performing with them and also to celebrate ten years of Amazon Apprenticeships.”

Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education Robert Halfon said: “It is brilliant to see that apprenticeships are now widely recognised as offering great career prospects, particularly amongst parents. Amazon’s decade-long commitment to apprenticeships has been instrumental in this progress, putting apprenticeships at the heart of the business and giving over 5,500 people the opportunity to earn while they learn the skills they need to succeed.

“Demand for apprenticeships is rising, but these findings show that we must continue our work to ensure that apprenticeships and traditional degrees are on an equal footing. To help more young people make informed decisions about their future, we are working with UCAS to expand their service so students can search and apply for apprenticeships alongside degrees and continuing to promote them through our Get the Jump campaign.”

Amazon’s UK Country Manager, John Boumphrey, said:“Young people and their families are having to navigate really complex decisions at this time of year. That’s why we’re providing information, guidance, and support throughout the year, as well as our special career mentoring event with Cat Burns. It’s all designed to help them decide on the best path for them and their future.

“I am excited that we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of apprenticeships at Amazon, and also offer many opportunities for people to join us in their first job outside of university. We offer all kinds of jobs for all kinds of people reflecting the range of skills and abilities in communities across the UK and look forward to supporting young people to build successful careers.”

Explore more about Amazon apprenticeships here.

Explore more About Amazon’s student programmes here.

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