Most of us will remember Labour’s announcement of its goal to get 50% of young people into higher education (ie. university), which was more than eight years ago. Last year, that figure got as close as it ever has done; the high education initial participation rate (HEIPR) hit 49.3% – a significant rise from 42.5% since records began in 2006.
With the latest statistics, released at the end of last year by the Office of National Statistics, revealing that 38% of the UK workforce have a degree it’s becoming unbelievably competitive. Whether the job market is being saturated with degrees is something that’s been heavily debated on both sides (for and against) ever since Labour’s 50% target was set, but one thing is clear – having a degree is not always enough, and this latest post runs through some alternative paths for those who don’t want to take the HE route.
1. Join A Growing, Alternative Sector
It sounds really obvious, but you need to think outside the box – especially if you’re not sure where you’d like your career to take you. Regardless of what work we’ve done already, we all have a number of skills which are transferrable to other industries – so just because you’ve worked in PR for two years, doesn’t mean you won’t be able to break through into something totally different.
A great tip is to try and break into an industry which is showing signs of growth – demand for employees in these industries will be higher, and employers will be willing to snap up more workers. Given the recent economic climate, it can be difficult to see how this would be the case but in this period of increasing recovery there are a number of emerging industries showing consistent and promising growth.
Construction is one example; it’s been growing consistently for almost a year and a half without faltering, and this month hit its fastest growth in seven months. It’s a great industry to get stuck into, whether you’re unsure about your career path or want to change your direction, given the sheer variety of roles involved – from hands-on construction jobs to site management, finance and marketing. Specialist recruiters, like PSR Solutions, can offer better advice on how to get into a growing industry and get yourself much sought-after job security.
2. Start Your Own Business; Be Your Own Boss
It can be frustrating to keep getting turned away from interviews for your dream job; despite knowing you can do it exceptionally well, there’s just too much competition. So if you’re struggling to get into the industry you love, why not become part of it instead? Figures of self-employed people and those registering new businesses are, as of 2014, at their highest, with a 367,000 rise in four years since the start of 2011 – hitting 14% of all the 29.4 million people in employment. In fact, self-employment in the UK is at its highest than at any point over the last 40 years.
If you know your field, know you’re great at it and just need a chance to prove yourself then self-employment can be a great way to break through. If you’re able to work online from home then this can keep the running costs down, whereas working on a consultancy basis can give you the chance to work with bigger companies rather than trying to compete against them.
3. Apprenticeships & Experience
While the uptake in university degrees is steadily increasing, there has also been an enormous surge in those taking up apprenticeships to gain an alternative qualification and get that all-important hands on experience employers are so hungry for. A whopping 860,000 people were on an apprenticeship by the end of 2013; a rise of more than 130% since 2010.
This makes for a fantastic opportunity if you’re not set on grabbing a degree, and just want to get stuck in with some experience. The Daily Mail ran a piece earlier this year (which you can read here) looking at the benefits of current apprenticeship schemes in the UK and showing that they’re not limited to vocational industries – law, management and PR are among their success stories.
About Author: Tom McShane is an online marketer and blogger, working alongside UK-based PSR Solutions – a national recruiter for construction companies across the country.