For Parents: University or Apprenticeship? A Guide to Help Your Child Decide 

Deciding between pursuing a university degree or an apprenticeship is a significant crossroads in any young person’s educational journey. As a parent or guardian, your support and guidance are invaluable in helping your child navigate this decision. Both paths offer unique advantages and cater to different interests, learning styles, and career aspirations. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview to aid your discussion with your child on choosing the best option for their future. 

Student, woman thinking sat at computer

Apprenticeships vs University 


University education provides a broader academic experience with the opportunity to explore subjects in depth, participate in campus life, and develop a wide range of transferable skills. It suits those with academic inclinations or career goals requiring specific university qualifications. 


Apprenticeships offer practical, job-specific skills, a salary during training, and the potential to achieve a degree without the associated student debt. They’re ideal for those keen on entering the workforce directly and earning while learning. 

Engineering apprentice learning

Qualifications and Experience 


Qualifications: Universities offer a range of qualifications from foundation degrees to PhDs. These academic credentials are essential for certain professions. 

Experience: While some degrees include placement years, gaining work experience often requires initiative. University career services can offer support in finding relevant opportunities. 


Qualifications: Apprenticeships range from Level 2 (GCSE equivalent) to Level 6 (master’s degree equivalent), allowing for progression in various fields. 

Experience: Apprentices gain hands-on experience in the workplace, acquiring skills directly applicable to their career path. 

Remember, specific careers require university degrees, while others value practical experience and technical skills. 

Piggy bank with graduation hat, sat on top of folders. Hands using calculator to work out cost

Cost and Earning Potential 


Cost: Fees vary across the UK, with England charging up to £9,250 per year. Living expenses can necessitate a maintenance loan. 

Earning Potential: Graduates tend to earn a median salary of £38,600, notably higher than non-graduates. 


Cost: Training costs are covered, but living expenses remain. Apprentices earn a wage, with the median salary for level 6 apprentices at £34,620. 

Earning potential varies widely based on the field of study, the institution, and the job market. 

Students sat talking outside University



Offers a rich social life, with opportunities to join societies and meet a diverse group of people. 

Ideal for those who enjoy academic study and wish to delve deeply into a subject. 


Combines work with study, often leading to quicker financial independence. 

Suits those ready to enter the workforce and start building their careers immediately. 

In a rapidly evolving career landscape, apprenticeships emerge as a formidable pathway to success, challenging the conventional preference for university degrees. This comprehensive guide demystifies apprenticeships, compares them with university education, outlines available programmes, and delves into the financial aspects, ultimately guiding you in assisting your child to make an informed decision. 

Understanding Apprenticeships 

An apprenticeship is a blend of employment and education, offering your child the chance to gain hands-on work experience, earn a salary, and study towards relevant qualifications – all at no cost to them. It’s a structured programme where the employer covers the training expenses, allowing your child to emerge debt-free with valuable qualifications. 

Types of Apprenticeships: 

Intermediate (Level 2): Equivalent to 5 GCSEs. 

Advanced (Level 3): Equivalent to 2 A-levels. 

Higher (Levels 4-7): Ranges from higher education certificates to master’s degrees. 

Degree (Levels 6-7): Culminates in a bachelor’s or master’s degree. 

Apprenticeships span various fields, including but not limited to, engineering, law, software development, healthcare, and creative industries, reflecting their versatility and broad appeal. 

The MyFutureChoice Advantage

MyFutureChoice programmes, including MyCareerChoices and MyAptitude, are designed to help students navigate their career and educational pathways effectively. These programmes offer: 

Personalised Career Guidance: Tailored advice on aligning interests with potential careers or apprenticeships, supporting informed decision-making. 

Aptitude Assessments: Insight into your child’s strengths and potential career paths, ensuring they choose a route that complements their abilities and ambitions. 

University and Apprenticeship Exploration: Tools and resources to explore a wide range of apprenticeship opportunities and university courses, facilitating a balanced comparison between the two options. 

Navigating the Decision 

Choosing between an apprenticeship and university is a significant decision that depends on your child’s career aspirations, learning style, and personal preferences. Engage in open discussions, encourage exploration of both paths, and utilize resources like MyFutureChoice to provide comprehensive support in this journey. 

Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Whether your child opts for the hands-on learning and immediate employment opportunities of an apprenticeship or the academic depth and campus life of a university, the goal is to pave a path that aligns with their aspirations and leads to a fulfilling career.