Image: Max Klingensmith Image: Max Klingensmith

A-level results day has arrived, and as thousands of students across the nation nervously open the brown envelopes that will determine their near future, employers are gearing up for a new round of teenagers and graduates to hit the jobs market and begin their first steps onto the career ladder.

Long gone are the days where only a small percentage of people chose to study in higher education.

As industries become increasingly competitive and recruitment numbers decline, university degrees can help those gain knowledge and experience in specific areas and encourage individuals to achieve the job roles they desire.

This perhaps indicates why 235,000 18-year-olds accepted offers for full-time courses last year, the highest number ever recorded.

However, new research suggests that more than a third of graduates actually regret going to university due to the amount of debt they now have. The study by Aviva also revealed that nearly a half (49%) of graduates believe they could have still got to where they are in life without having a university degree behind them.

A study by NotGoingToUni.co.uk also found that half of Britons aged 18 and over were not planning on going to university and the same number of respondents say they went to university but then dropped out.

The study of nearly 2,500 people revealed the main reasons for this was due to the increasing cost of tuition (58%) and the fact that many believe they can get a job without a degree (52%).

These findings were released shortly after it was found that one quarter of UK graduates are low earners even 10 years after graduating. The Longitudinal Education Outcomes data revealed one in four graduate earners, in the lowest quartile, is earning around £20,000 a year.

It’s no surprise that many school leavers are searching for different career paths.

Apprenticeships have recently been a huge focus for the government, particularly with the new levy planned for spring next year, which aims to help increase the quantity of apprenticeships to three million by 2020, whilst also improving the quality of them. Employers are also in favour of apprenticeships, as a recent study found 93% of employers would opt to take on someone who had completed a three-year apprentice rather than someone who had studied for the same amount of time.

Jenny Taylor, apprenticeship and student programme manager at IBM, said: “In recent years we have seen record numbers of school leavers gaining higher education and University places and those entering into non-graduate jobs on completion of their degrees. We should of course not deter students from entering University, but we need to educate them about all the options available for their career path.

“Apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships are becoming more popular and employers are starting to recognise the benefits. Employers know that apprenticeships build relevant skills in the workforce and post-Brexit this will represent a low risk, high return way for employers to invest in their future workforce.

"In addition, the much talked about Apprenticeship Levy will drive further interest from employers in apprentices. This could, in turn, lead to a different split in apprentice and graduate hiring across the board and readdress the balance in the UK”.

Alice Topham, 21, began her apprenticeship with Tyrells two years ago after feeling the need to continue her studies, but not wanting to return to a class-room environment.

Ms. Topham said: “I began my apprenticeship working on reception, this gave me an opportunity to build my experience facing clients and suppliers, as well as communicating information to my colleagues – this ran in conjunction with my college course, and my tutor visited every month to check in with me.

“After four months I was given an exciting opportunity to work on the UK Supply Chain team, and having performed well, I moved to my current role as International Supply Chain Co-Ordinator on the Global Supply Chain team. Gradually being given more responsibility allowed me to quickly develop my skills and experience, without feeling out of my depth.”

However, not everyone finds their feet on the career ladder as quickly. It may be surprising to many that a high number of young people don’t feel in a position to follow their career dreams.

According to new research by Pitman Training and Censuswide, 84% of 16 to 24-year-olds reveal they don’t know how to turn the interests they’re passionate about into a career. A further 49% consider their lack of qualifications holds them back from exploring aspirational career opportunities.

Sharon Walpole, CEO of NotGoingToUni.co.uk, said: “Many young people believe life is a linear route when really it isn't. It's more like a spider’s web - going through different approaches when something doesn’t work out.

“It saddens me that young people feel they do not have the skills to do the job they want. Whereas they might not have specific skills, young people have transferable skills. Employers want kids that turn up on time, dress smart and are keen learners and when you have the right person with the right attitude, employers will want to teach them the skills they need.”