More UK Graduates Choosing Jobs Over University

The number of British 17- and 18-year-olds seeking employment after taking A-level exams has dramatically increased. Students who want to avoid the expense of a university education, which is scheduled to go up by up to 300% this fall, are looking to enter the job market instead, and major employers around England are seeing the number of job applicants skyrocketing.

One website that aims to guide students to university alternatives, including entering the job market, has seen the its number of users go up by more than 50%:

The website – set up as a UCAS-style service for young people considering other options – said it had 150,000 visitors so far this year compared with 100,000 in 2011.

Spencer Mehlman, managing director, said the rise was driven by the “increased cost of a degree”.

“In the past, it was a fairly straightforward decision for parents; if your child was bright, they went to university,” he said.

This year’s university freshmen will be the first class to be hit with increased tuition and fees after the Coalition government lifted the caps on how much schools may charge from just over £3,000 to £9,000 per year. Interest in university education is still high, but an increasing number of students feel it would be a better idea to seek employment instead.

Earlier this month, data collected by the Independent Commission on Fees found that roughly 15,000 fewer students than expected sought admission to a university degree program. Even as early as last fall, some universities were reporting big drops in applications, with some seeing demands for spots drop by as much as half. Overall, universities are seeing a 12% decline in applications compared to the same period from the previous year.

Mehlman thinks that increased tuition combined with an anemic job market are forcing many parents and students to reconsider whether higher education is worthwhile anymore. This could prove to be a boon both for students and employers interested in tapping an unexpectedly large market of young, smart and motivated potential employees. According to information provided to The Daily Telegraph, jobs that require A-levels are now seeing on average 120 candidates apply for each available slot.

Marks & Spencer said it had received 3,000 applications for between 25 and 30 trainee management vacancies, which are open to applicants with two A-levels or equivalent qualifications.

Laing O’Rourke, the construction company, has had 1,000 applications for 60 school-leaver jobs, while 6,290 teenagers have applied for 200 positions at Network Rail.

08 20, 2012
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