Why are young people choosing apprenticeships over university?

As the cost of going to university is rising, so too is the number of young people opting to take other routes into the workplace.

The price of getting an education is becoming too high for some students - on average a UK student will finish a three year degree course with £50,000 of debt. This means that students from poorer backgrounds are less likely to opt for a university education and will seek out alternatives that will enable them to still gain qualifications while not putting them into thousands of pounds of debt.

Enter Virgin Media's apprenticeship programmes. These programmes enable young people to study for a qualification whilst working for the company, meaning that they earn a wage rather than having to pay tuition fees. They also gain experience of a role and when their apprenticeship is complete they could have the edge over a recent university graduate who doesn't have any workplace experience. Rebecca Hannah completed the Higher People Apprentice programme at Virgin Media and shares her thoughts...

Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship over going down the university route?

I found the apprentice route appealing as I liked the idea of getting experience of working in a professional environment while also studying for a level five qualification. Gaining workplace experience was important to me and I knew how valuable having experience is. After college I felt ready to dive into the world of work but I was conscious that I didn’t want to miss out on gaining a higher level qualification. The apprenticeship offered the best of both for me!

What specifically attracted you to doing an apprenticeship with Virgin Media?

The culture of Virgin Media and the brand initially attracted me, but also the amount of opportunities available to me and how open everyone is to get you involved in all different projects around the business. 

What’s the best part of your apprenticeship?

One of my favourite things about being an apprentice at Virgin Media is there is always something to get involved in and honestly, two days are never the same! The opportunities open to me have been a real insight into the business and great experience which I will take with me throughout my career.

What’s the most challenging part?

Like everything new at first it was daunting to adjust from college to working full time, however the support around me, especially from my team and line manager Lucy has been second to none. My confidence since joining Virgin has grown from strength to strength and I have my support network to thank for this. 

Do you think young people should consider apprenticeships and other alternative forms of education over university?

I definitely think it’s a great alternative to university and if you’re like me and still want to add to your existing skills by studying for a qualification but don’t want to lack on experience then an apprenticeship is a great thing to consider! The amount of apprenticeships available now go way beyond what was traditionally offered a few years ago and there are more and more companies realising the benefits of offering apprenticeships, so this is a great time to be thinking about them as an alternative to ‘traditional’ university routes!

What advice would you give to someone considering applying for your apprenticeship with Virgin Media?

Firstly I’d say to do your research, learn about the brand and what Virgin Media are all about but ultimately be yourself! Virgin Media are built on a culture where we value our people and the right individual is really what we’ll be looking for! 


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