Young people around the country, who have set their sights on being the professionals of the future, are choosing to study a new sort of apprenticeship as an alternative to university.
As part of their post-secondary education, a growing number of recent high school and college graduates are working in regular graduate roles while still pursuing an academic degree in their chosen profession. The mix of practical training and academic studies provides vital skills and experience and a career head start.
Young people who want to work in highly competitive fields like finance, surveying, or professional services have traditionally needed a degree to do so. Many students now study part-time while working full-time to get the best of both worlds: on-the-the-job training and classroom education. Students are also being discouraged from continuing their education as a result of rising tuition costs.
Figures from the Higher Education Funding Council for England indicate the depth of the downturn; just 139,000 part-time undergraduate applicants were registered in 2014 compared to 259,000 in 2011.
With many young people now seeking for an alternate method to begin their ideal job, private companies and potential employers are playing a critical part in supporting the next generation of aspirants, by offering a choice of practical training possibilities mixed with academic study.
As one of these “new apprentices,” Amy Wakerley, 20, has accepted a position with quantity surveying firm Jackson Rowe and is being sponsored by the firm to complete her training.
Amy comments: “I didn’t feel the university structure and lifestyle of full-time study was for me and so I decided that on-the-job training coupled with part-time university work would be the best way to start a career in the industry. I looked at a lot of organisations and Jackson Rowe was wonderful in coming back to me and supporting me with how my programme would be structured.”
Amy, like many other teenagers, struggled with deciding on a career path. In the end, she was inspired by her uncle, a successful businessman. “In my second year at college I was still undecided on a career path. My uncle is a quantity surveyor and he inspired me to research a career in building as a quantity surveyor. I thought, sure, that describes me!”
A new generation of employees with the academic and theoretical understanding that only a university education can supply as well as practical experience in their chosen profession would be a boon to employers like Jackson Rowe.
“I have been encouraged by my colleagues at Jackson Rowe to use the organisational, time-cost evaluation and negotiation skills that I have a natural flair for. Jackson Rowe has been incredibly supportive and has taken a chance with me, so I feel really lucky,” Amy says.
Amy works four days a week for Jackson Rowe and studies part-time for a quantity surveying degree at Anglia Ruskins University in Essex every Friday. Amy can easily arrange both her short-term and long-term goals because the programme lasts five years and allows for an additional two years of study to become a chartered surveyor. Jackson Rowe will provide a critical guiding hand for Amy’s ambitions. “The amount of help I’ve received from Jackson Rowe has exceeded my wildest expectations. I work with some of the most experienced surveyors in the construction field; some who have been QSs for 30 years, and so in addition to my university teachers, I have a vast support network of qualified experts. I am always given advise on the different university projects I am working towards and I also get to integrate what I learn academically in my day-to-day activities with Jackson Rowe.
“Being able to learn on the job rather than just in a classroom gives me an advantage over my peers in terms of knowledge and experience.” And as opposed to working with a larger organisation, I can communicate with everyone and they’re constantly ready for any questions I have. I don’t feel like just a number, but instead a crucial part of the team who is contributing to the direction of the firm.
Since its beginning 25 years ago, Jackson Rowe has been firmly committed to the cultivation of fresh, up-and-coming talent. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has recognised it as a structured training provider. Apprenticeship and trainee programmes, as well as graduate chances, are all actively promoted by the company, a practise that many other businesses should emulate in light of upcoming government measures.
Beyond the obvious financial advantages of not having to pay back student loans, where recent numbers have shown that the average starting income for a graduate was £14,734 compared to £18,463 for those who had completed apprenticeships or on-the-job training, there are other important benefits.
As for Amy, it’s that she has a firm grasp on the high standards that come with working for a respectable company like Jackson Rowe, something she says a university education just cannot provide.
“I find it much easier to learn the academic side of things gradually and being able to apply what I learn practically through my day-to-day work. Less of an adjustment time will be required when I finish my studies as I am already used to a nine-to-five working day, the office environment and all the business jargon that we use within the industry.”
The achievement of young ambitious people like Amy may undoubtedly reaffirm Jackson Rowe’s credo of ‘proud past; vibrant future’. iWS Group and Clarson Goff Management have joined Jackson Rowe in the Front3Group, a group of construction and development professionals that just celebrated their 25th anniversary. This new partnership furthers Jackson Rowe’s philosophy of presenting a blend of fresh ideas and seasoned expertise.
Amy already knows what she wants to do next as she looks forward to an exciting future. “In the long run, I’d like to work on a new housing project that benefits the people in my hometown of Essex. Being a part of a new, interesting housing development that benefits my family and the people around me would be an honour.”