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Primary Education News
News After A-level results, university may not be the best career path | Martin Dunne
This time last year I was opening my results. Now I'm a junior reporter on my local newspaper – without paying tuition fees
Today all across the country A-level students will be opening their results with bated breath. Many of them will have been up all night, praying they have reached the conditions of their university offers. But will any of them have considered the many alternative paths into a whole host of professional careers?
I was in their position only 12 months ago. My year group was the first to have to pay the coalition's tripled tuition fees and I was balancing the promise of a degree against the prospect of a cold and unforgiving venture into the world of work.
I had wanted to be a journalist for years and had found myself inundated with conflicting advice. Many of the writers I admired were Oxbridge graduates. Others had worked on their local papers before working their way up. What was my next move?
After doing a little digging and discovering the National Council for the Training of Journalists offered fast-track courses for free to under-19s, I resolved to forget about university and take this more vocational route.
Nine months later and I am officially a junior reporter on my local newspaper. At 19 I am earning a decent salary, working 9-5 doing a job I have always wanted. I spend my days talking to everyone from local councillors to alternative rock musicians and enjoy all the perks available to me.
This isn't me trying to be smug. I just hope other teenagers who are confused, like I was, will explore all their options before deciding they need to enter into a three-year contract of debt and temporarily sidestepping unemployment.
It goes without saying there are many professions you simply cannot hope to enter without going to university. Doctors, lawyers and scientists, understandably, do not have the option of short-term vocational training. If you're about to have a vital operation, you don't want to know your surgeon has been learning "on the job" for the past three months.
Outside jobs like this, however, there are a plethora of careers, from accountancy to business management, engineering and, indeed, journalism, that do not require a degree-level education to be successful. A multitude of different schemes, from apprenticeships to fast-track diplomas, are available in these disciplines and so many more.
It is the high number of graduates that do not find employment at all (one in 10), let alone in their chosen field, that drives me to advise anyone analysing their career options to take at least a year out to learn about these different courses and try their hand at them. If you really feel they won't get you where you want to be, the option of a degree remains on the table.
My generation is growing up in a time of unprecedented economic instability and many of us are confused by the system we adhere to. Why does it cost the same to gain an education at Cumbria as it does at Cambridge?
Over a decade ago New Labour began taking university applications as a marker of success, morphing hundreds of perfectly practical occupations into a series of overly academic exam papers, baring little relevance to the real world of everyday work.
To those out there wondering if university really is their only option, please take my advice: investigate. Do your research and see if there's another way. You might even earn some money along the way.