For thousands of teenagers across Greater Manchester, the anxious wait for A Level results ends this week. But regardless of the results, there are still big decisions to take about the first steps to that dream career.  Degree students in England are going to graduate with average debts of £50,800, according to a recent report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

With that in mind, a growing number of school and college leavers are now looking for alternatives to full time higher education, that will allow them to earn while they get qualified rather than running up debts that they will carry into their 40s or 50s. And it’s not just those who are not academically inclined who are choosing the apprenticeship route. 

After getting good A level results, 23 year Ryan Maley from Milnrow was advised by his teachers to go to university, but he didn’t feel that university was the right option for him at that time.  He wanted to get a business related job and get qualifications while he was in work.  Ryan started an apprenticeship in Marketing with The Skills Company in 2012, and completed it with flying colours, but he didn’t want his development to end there, and enrolled on a part time Foundation Degree course in Business Management run by The Skills Company in partnership with the University of Bolton. 

Ryan completed the course in 2015, and began The Skills Company’s BA Honours top up course, which he passed with first class honours this year. Ryan, who is now working as a Digital Executive at destination marketing organisation Marketing Manchester said: “It was a very proud moment to be presented with my first class honours degree.  It’s not easy to fit the studying in with a full time job, but I feel like it’s all been worthwhile.  The best thing about getting a degree this way is that I was able to relate the content of the course to my everyday work, so it made it much more relevant than if I was just studying the theory. 

“I feel that the route I took to get my degree, starting with an apprenticeship, then progressing through the Foundation Degree to my Honours Degree, has given me the best of both worlds.  I’ve been earning all the time, and gaining valuable experience that has helped me in my studies.  And because my employer has supported some of my study costs, I’m in a much better position financially than most new graduates.” 

Jayne Worthington, Managing Director of The Skills Company said: “It’s not an easy time for young people leaving school or college, and there are difficult decisions to make, but the good news is that there are high quality alternative routes available, both academic and vocational, even for the most capable students. An apprenticeship can be just the start of a learning journey, not the end. 

“Ryan’s a great example of a young person who has chosen the route that suited him best, and is now reaping the benefits. He’s in a good job with an exciting organisation, has years of valuable experience behind him, and now has a great degree to top it off!” 

To find out what Apprenticeship opportunities are available, phone 0161 233 2656 or email recruitment@theskillsco.ac.uk