A-Level anxiety? University isn’t the only option 

A Level Results Day 2018 has been and gone, some students were elated with their results, others disappointed, and some were surprisingly nonplussed. Regardless of their reactions, the contents of that envelope can change the course of a young person’s future. 

In this blog Rob Wall, Head of Policy at Chartered Management Institute, discusses how young people now have other options post A Level than the traditional university route. 


Traditionally students waiting for their results on A-Level results day were anxious to hear if they’d achieved the right grades to secure a place at university. Nowadays, whilst that anxiety may still be there, many students are taking their A-Level results and choosing a vocational or degree apprenticeship route. University is definitely not the only option.

Knowing that 77% of all young people cite parents as their number one source of career advice on leaving school, the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) was interested to find out how much parents know about post A-Level options and their attitude to university and apprenticeships.

In our survey of over 1,000 parents of 11-18 years olds over half (57%) agreed that apprenticeships provide a better chance of their children getting a job than going to university.  Not only are apprenticeships a way to fast track their career and learn on the job, but they also  sidestep growing university fees. As a result, almost half (49%) of parents say they would encourage their child to apply for an apprenticeship rather than applying to university.

What’s the appeal of degree apprenticeships?

Whilst we have world-class universities in the UK, degree apprenticeships (which combine a university degree with on-the-job experience)  address  parents’ concerns about their children not being equipped with work-ready skills when they leave full-time education. 71% agree that their children’s job prospects would be improved as a result of completing an apprenticeship, compared to taking a traditional degree.

Degree apprenticeships allow people of all ages and from all backgrounds to develop the full-range of skills, knowledge and behaviours that employers need. Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the influential Education Select Committee, recently described degree apprenticeships as “transformative” in their potential to help people from disadvantaged backgrounds earn whilst they learn and get their foot on the career ladder.

Are employers supporting the rising demand for apprenticeships?

While 72% of parents support the idea that employers should pay the costs of training apprentices, only 26% of parents feel that employers are providing enough apprenticeships for young people and only a third agree that employers do enough to provide work experience for young people. We recognise that the system needs to be simpler and more flexible, but employers need to step up and provide more places.

With only half (51%) believing schools equip their child with leadership skills, 70% of parents believe that to meet the needs of employers, all learners at university should have the opportunity to develop management, enterprise and leadership skills.

What does the future hold?

Many employers recognise the growing demand for apprenticeships, and the benefits they can deliver – not only to the organisation but to the individual and to closing the UK’s productivity gap. The latest data shows that more employers are taking on apprentices than 12 months ago  – although demand for degree apprenticeships outstrips supply. We want to see more employers to step up and accommodate this growing demand. Already degree apprenticeships are transforming lives and giving young people from all backgrounds the opportunity to work in top organisations and develop skills without the expense of university.

So for students who received their A-Level results this month (and their equally anxious parents), don’t forget, there are several options out there for your next journey post A-levels.


Today CMI are the only chartered professional body dedicated to promoting the highest standards in management and leadership excellence. No wonder over 100,000 managers use their unique services on a daily basis.

For more information on CMI’s apprenticeships, visit: https://www.managers.org.uk/apprenticeships-and-epa

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