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The many roads to employment

EmployerThe routes available to finding work are currently highly politicised. Apprenticeships, internships, university fees and more are regularly in the news, with the pros and cons of all kinds of methods for making a start in the workplace debated endlessly, and parties making pledges based on their perceived value of each.

The Telegraph recently reported that creative degrees, commonly derided (by those who don’t have one) as a waste of time that makes someone unemployable, are actually among the best qualifications to have if you’re looking for work. Not surprisingly, each path has different benefits, and will be suited to different people.


The traditional route of the top students going to university to be guaranteed a good job may seem to be on the way out, with an employment crisis that saw graduates stacking shelves on Workfare to keep earning their Jobseeker’s Allowance, which dominated the news during the financial downturn. But 70% of students find themselves in employment after six months, rising to 80% for students on creative degrees, showing that it is still a good path to a career for those willing to put in the work.

Creative degrees work so well, experts claim, because of their close links to specific industries such as journalism, fashion and design. But the skills that creative students develop are also highly transferrable. An illustrator, for example, could find work in publishing, advertising, animation, media production, graphic design, or the marketing department of a larger business. It is a good reminder for all that flexibility is often the key to success.


Both the role and image of apprenticeships has come a long way over the years. Although older generations may still have a tendency to see them as the last resort for those who weren’t good enough to earn a university place, such an outdated view currently couldn’t be further from the truth.

As tuition fees rise and looming student debts become ever larger, apprenticeships are increasingly being seen as a desirable alternative to university in a wide range of fields. Mechanics and bricklayers still offer apprenticeships, yes, but so do lawyers, accountants, journalists, and a whole host of other industries. Apprenticeships have the benefits of earning while learning, and getting through the front door of an industry quicker than those who have chosen the university route.

Apprenticeship success stories may see someone established in an industry as a specialist, on a high wage and largely debt-free by their mid-20s. It’s no wonder that political parties consistently try to one-up each other on how many apprenticeships they plan to create.


Probably the most controversial of these three routes to employment, internships are nonetheless a fact of life for those seeking work in many industries. Even those with university degrees may find themselves working as interns for a period on their way to full employment.

Internships are a good way to experience a career to see if it is the right path, as well as get a foot in the door at more prestigious companies or in more competitive industries. However, they are also often unpaid, which is why they are often undertaken by students who are already receiving financial support.

The road best travelled

There is no ‘right’ route to take to employment, and no one is ever guaranteed a job just because they tick the right boxes. It is simply important to weigh up each option to work out the best way to learn, earn, train, and have the balance of a personal life as well – each will take you as far as you want to go, provided you put in the work.

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