A shock new report reveals that one in five graduates are working in low or medium paying jobs job and most of them regret going to university in the first place.
However, the report says that people who took apprenticeships in the trades can expect to be earning £50,000 a year by their mid-20s.
One example said he had taken a four-year apprenticeship in electrical installation at a Manchester college and after passing his exams set up his own company. He did so well that within months he had hired an apprentice of his own.
He recently merged with a plumbing firm to launch a property maintenance company and launched a lighting installation website.
Zena Everett, author of the careers manual Mind Flip, said: “Apprentices are going to get on the housing ladder quicker, be able to take out a car loan and feel very quickly that they’re ahead of their friends.
“There is less prejudice against apprentices than there might be against the millennial generation of graduates. People realise these are kids who are ambitious, with a great work ethic, who are serious about their careers.”
In contrast one graduate had this to say: “I’ve had part-time jobs since I was 15.
At college we’d been told we wouldn’t have to pay back our student debt until we were earning enough, and were made to believe the money we owed didn’t matter. But by my second year I could barely afford to pay my rent.
The former student said: “Arts degrees aren’t valued. Mine was a waste of time. I would have been better off getting a drama diploma at college instead and saving myself the debt.’
Another young woman in her final year of a toolmaking apprenticeship, the only woman among 50 trainees on the floor of a car-manufacturing factory in Swansea, is earning £16,000 a year, but hopes to earn £27,000 when she qualifies next year, says: “An apprenticeship gives you freedom, my university friends can’t afford to survive on their student loans.”
Things are changing quickly though and, according to Daily Mail research, some private schools are encouraging pupils to learn a trade. Recent research revealed that the number of independent-school students taking vocational qualifications has doubled in the past four years.
In fact, one school, Engineering Real Results, supported by TV celebrity builder Tommy Walsh, is changing the face of how to become a qualified trades person by fast-tracking students through the process to an NVQ.
A group of construction students have already rebuilt an abandoned pottery warehouse in Stoke on Trent and other properties around the country.
Engineering Real Results http://www.errltd.co.uk/, the largest trades training organisation in the UK, has been buying up neglected and derelict properties in a multi-million pound move giving tradespeople of all ages a way round restrictive Government legislation which forces them to beg for unpaid work.
The scheme allows the trade students to comply with Government rules which demand apprentices carry out 100 hours practical training.
Now they can complete their qualifications in as little as six weeks rather than years.
Ground Force star Tommy said: “The Government’s commitment to building hundreds of thousands of homes is threatened by skill shortages. Britain has plenty of young people ready to build a new life for their families by learning a trade but they come up against a brick wall when it comes to completing their skills-set – they need practical experience to prove they can do the job and they find it very difficult to get.
“It’s true to say the trainees see themselves as the bricks and mortar of academia – they are able to build places of learning now.”
Dr Jan Telensky, the financial angel behind the scheme, said there have been thousands of new construction jobs this year as builders attempt to meet Government targets – but apprentices who spent years learning to become plumbers, gas fitters, bricklayers and electrician have been missing out because of the legislation.
He said: “Our own apprentices were losing out. This new scheme, New Vocational Quickstart, involves renovating properties across the country and enables them to get there NVQ in just weeks instead of years.”
The company has also been buying properties in Watford, Cardiff, Southampton, Featherstone in Yorkshire, Livingstone, West Lothian, Cardiff, Basildon and Wolverhampton.
A spokesman for the National Federation of Builders, also backed the scheme, saying: “Anything to provide training and experience to young construction students is a very good thing. The industry is very dependent on up-to-date skills and experience and we welcome innovative solutions such as Engineering Real Results.”