PriceWaterHouse Coopers now take on apprentices to become accountants. A firm synonymous with graduate recruitment is in the midst of an ethos shift??to take the future of the business from the best and brightest school and college students.
By doing this, the firm gets their future employees from an earlier stage, and is able to mould them in the ethos of the company. They become real PwC people from the outset. The three years these early stage employees would have spent at university is now spent at PwC, becoming immersed in their business, their foibles and their way of life. The company is able to train its new employees as they want, and do not have to spend time and money undoing bad habits accrued at university.
Is this an entirely positive move and something we should be moving towards as a wholesale change?
There are obviously two sides to the argument.
University is and will remain to be an exceptional opportunity for anybody. The skills involved in obtaining a degree are far from insignificant, and the journey a student goes on in order to get a degree can be life affirming and character forming. Student life is obviously a huge draw card, with a heady mix of freedom and responsibility proving an intoxicating combination for many. University can be the best days of an individuals life.
That said, university has to be embraced for all of its educational worth. There seems to be an educational conveyor belt, upon which a student jumps at the age of five and seems reluctant to get off until the age of 21. This can be a mindless affair, with people often not pausing to ask whether the conveyor belt is right for them. The educational mantra that university is a ticket to a better life is thoroughly engrained in society, and people march towards this institutional mecca without thought or discrimination.
Is it really the right option for the masses? University is a training ground for the academic elite. The fact is, most of us mortals arent academic elite??is university really the place we should be striving for? The majority of people go to university without a clear and concrete reason. They go by default.
Again, that said, the journey can be a pivotal period of self discovery, where people find the path they deserve to be on, find inspiration and forge ahead on the path of success.
For others, these three years delays the inevitable and is merely a delay to put off making a decision about what to do.
Apprenticeships could then be a god-send. Money in the back pocket, learning a career on the job and gaining, what is in effect, a three year head start on your peers can be an attractive proposition.
Todays economy, with the technological advancement catalysing the creation of new job categories all the time, is geared up to this apprenticeship model. The skills needed to be successful in todays climes can be learnt on the job. Coding skills, social media marketing, communication, sales and networking are more pivotal than ever??and can all be learnt whilst doing. An apprenticeship is the perfect opportunity to develop such skills.
One place that firmly believes apprenticeships are the future is The Manchester College. They have a range of courses available to anybody wishing to pursue the apprenticeship route. The courses operate on a day release basis, with the apprentice becoming immersed in a local business and then heading off to university to learn the tricks of the trade from dedicated teachers with industry experience.
We were fortunate enough to have a lengthy discussion with a teacher at the college at a recent event. The thing that struck us was the passion and determination to make his students successful, and a desire to be as helpful as possible to a local business. The content of the course is open to much tailoring??the teacher was keen to develop a learning experience that is highly useful and relevant to the host employer. As a local business, to be able to develop in-house the talent you need with the support of such expertise is a fantastic one.
The opportunity to apprentices to get an early foothold on the careers ladder is nothing short of enticing, and with the vast array of relevant courses on offer at The Manchester College, apprentices can be sure to find something that floats their boat and empowers them to contribute to the local economy.
Degrees are no longer the only option??apprentices could indeed be the new graduates.