Apprenticeships are for people with poor academic skills

Social Value

Post Written by Neil Jones

Recently my daughter has been choosing her subject options for her GCSE’s, our conversations were about what she needs to get into 6th form, with a view of going to University. But is this the right decision or would an apprenticeship be more suitable?

Back when I was in school people had the view that an apprenticeship is a low paid, antisocial, and non-academic role for those that cannot get into University. Yet within SmartWatch we want to take on more apprentices and we see the value in them. So, why isn’t it good enough for my daughter?

I think the biggest misunderstanding is that people think it is a second rate, second class route. That if you fail your A-levels it is for you.

Steven McIntosh, professor of economics at the University of Sheffield, agrees. “It’s not for people who have messed up at school,” he says. “There’s a misconception that anyone can get an apprenticeship.”

For an advanced level apprenticeship, for example, candidates typically need four good quality GCSEs, including English and Maths. There’s also high demand for places on popular apprenticeship schemes such as at British Airways and Rolls-Royce, says McIntosh. “Some of the best apprenticeships are harder to get into than Oxbridge.”

There’s evidence to suggest that employing apprentices can improve the productivity of the companies they work for. Studies have shown that each apprentice enables a productivity gain of more than £10,000 per year, with 76% of employers seeing productivity improve after hiring an apprentice.


I believe that starting an apprenticeship should be seen more as a choice, not a plan b. For many students they may not want to go off to university and if you are going to leave university with £50,000 debt, you need to weigh up whether it is worth it.

Is it right that we want our children to go to university to further their education? No, this must be their decision, but for me an apprentice route looks to have fantastic benefits for both the student and company.

If you and anyone you know are interested in an apprenticeship with SmartWatch Solutions, please ask them to send in a C.V and covering letter to




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