From someone who’s done both
20 year old Megan Evans gives us some insight into why she prefers vocational training over the traditional academic route:
In 2016, the average student graduates from university with £53,000 worth of debt and is faced with very disappointing graduate job prospects. It’s not surprising that more and more young people are starting on vocational training programmes rather than setting off for uni.
Throughout school, I always knew I wanted to be a Graphic Designer. When I finished my GCSEs I joined sixth form, struggled through A Levels and didn’t achieve the top grades. There were countless seminars about UCAS applications, personal statement writing, and university choices; but no mention of any options other than going to university.
Before I knew it, I’d chosen my universities, accepted my offers, packed up all my stuff and was heading to the craziness that is fresher’s week.
The transition from A Levels to university was very strange for me. In school, I was involved with almost all extra-curricular activity on offer so naturally I expected to join lots of societies, have great nights in the SU and join lots of sports teams. Unfortunately, this couldn’t have been further from reality in my university experience.
Even though I was now studying the subject I was passionate about, I found lectures disengaging and dull. I was completing whacky and unrealistic design briefs, which I couldn’t help but feel weren’t preparing me for the real world. What’s more, I was all too aware of the fact I was paying £9,000 a year for it.
I stuck it out, completed first year and even went back to start second year. It was 3 weeks into term that I realised I needed to do something about it. I didn’t take the decision lightly, but I decided to leave university and pursue my career via a different route.
By this point I had heard of family members who had started on Apprenticeships, who were earning a wage while gaining their qualification. I began to explore what Apprenticeships were on offer in Cardiff and stumbled upon a Digital Marketing and Graphic Design Apprenticeship vacancy at ACT Training. It sounded perfect, so I spent hours on my application and luckily it paid off. I got an interview, and was offered the job the very next day.
I’ve now worked for ACT Training for 11 months and have learnt so much. I’m completing a Level 3 Social Media for Business Apprenticeship. Instead of being sat in a classroom learning the theory, I’m working, learning and getting to experience a vast array of marketing and design work surrounded by a great team of people. My favourite projects I’ve worked on have been the #BEYanapprentice viral social media campaign, the new website launch and meeting thousands upon thousands of people at Skills Cymru in the Motorpoint Arena.
Within this role, I’m now also a member of the Wales Leadership Team for the National Society of Apprentices (NSoA) who are working to improve all aspects of Apprenticeships for young people from living costs and Apprentice Minimum Wage to improving careers advice for young people in school.
Having experienced both academic and vocational training I can confidently say, I believe vocational training prepares you far better for the world of work, and leaving university was most definitely the right decision for me. In the future I’d like to progress onto a higher level Apprenticeship and continue to promote the benefits of vocational training to young people.