The Student Room Group

Would you have chosen an apprenticeship rather than a degree at uni

For someone who is in university right now (especially if you are studying engineering), would you have chosen an apprenticeship instead of going to university if you could rewind time? If so why?
Hi,
This is dependant on what type of engineering you do. The short answer is yes because of these simple reasons:

1- Engineering in industry as a career simply does not pay well in the UK. The tuition fee and the cost of living combined means that you will not be making big money after graduation or anytime soon. The average starting salary is about £30k and can increase to around £70k when CEng(chartered) is achieved, this may take 5 years of work experience.
2- The number of grad jobs are about half as much as the number of graduates, may be even less than half. Therefore competition for graduate jobs or graduate "schemes" is fierce.
3- The UK doesn't really have a manufacturing industry as most of this is done in the US, China or Taiwan.

Now if you study something like Computer Engineering, then that's a bit different because there are far more jobs in the tech industry. One of my mates studied Mechanical Engineering and he couldn't find a job so he went back to India. Another one of my mates studied Mechanical Engineering and is now looking to get into software engineering. Pretty much everyone I know who studied Engineering is now doing a job that has nothing to do with the engineering degree. I too studied Electrical Engineering but I worked as a software engineer during my placement.

In summary yes, apprenticeship would be better if you really want to get into Engineering and become Chartered later on. At least with that you can avoid the £30-40k debt.
Original post by Ibrahim..
For someone who is in university right now (especially if you are studying engineering), would you have chosen an apprenticeship instead of going to university if you could rewind time? If so why?

I wouldn’t blame any engineer student or grad to say they would.

I did a degree apprenticeship in mechanical engineering with a top employer. No way would I have made it into the company any other way. All the graduate candidates have first class MEng and BEng and/or PhDs, with a ton of engineering extra curricular, summer, and year placement experience. Even then they only hire 4 a year.

You can smash your time in academia and win awards, publish, or even file patents during your studies… then fall short in the assessment day because an assessor thought you were relatively quiet in your group exercise or didn’t provide enough examples in an interview.
Reply 3
Original post by Chris2892
I wouldn’t blame any engineer student or grad to say they would.
I did a degree apprenticeship in mechanical engineering with a top employer. No way would I have made it into the company any other way. All the graduate candidates have first class MEng and BEng and/or PhDs, with a ton of engineering extra curricular, summer, and year placement experience. Even then they only hire 4 a year.
You can smash your time in academia and win awards, publish, or even file patents during your studies… then fall short in the assessment day because an assessor thought you were relatively quiet in your group exercise or didn’t provide enough examples in an interview.

Is employment difficukt for engineering graduates?
Reply 4
Original post by jonathan_Smith
Hi,
This is dependant on what type of engineering you do. The short answer is yes because of these simple reasons:
1- Engineering in industry as a career simply does not pay well in the UK. The tuition fee and the cost of living combined means that you will not be making big money after graduation or anytime soon. The average starting salary is about £30k and can increase to around £70k when CEng(chartered) is achieved, this may take 5 years of work experience.
2- The number of grad jobs are about half as much as the number of graduates, may be even less than half. Therefore competition for graduate jobs or graduate "schemes" is fierce.
3- The UK doesn't really have a manufacturing industry as most of this is done in the US, China or Taiwan.
Now if you study something like Computer Engineering, then that's a bit different because there are far more jobs in the tech industry. One of my mates studied Mechanical Engineering and he couldn't find a job so he went back to India. Another one of my mates studied Mechanical Engineering and is now looking to get into software engineering. Pretty much everyone I know who studied Engineering is now doing a job that has nothing to do with the engineering degree. I too studied Electrical Engineering but I worked as a software engineer during my placement.
In summary yes, apprenticeship would be better if you really want to get into Engineering and become Chartered later on. At least with that you can avoid the £30-40k debt.

If you take the apprenticeship route can you get into teaching afterwards or are you now forced to stay within the engineering lane for the rest of your life? Also it would be really helpful if you could possibly provide any info regarding civil engineering
Original post by Ibrahim..
If you take the apprenticeship route can you get into teaching afterwards or are you now forced to stay within the engineering lane for the rest of your life? Also it would be really helpful if you could possibly provide any info regarding civil engineering

I think its definitely possible to get into teaching after an apprenticeship, you will have to apply for a PhD first. I am assuming you are talking about university teaching? In that case you will need a PhD, every single one of my lecturers had a PhD, I can't think of any that didn't.
I can't speak about Civil Engineering since I studied Electronic Engineering and I don't really have any friends who studied Civil.

But to answer your question about "Is employment difficult for engineering graduates?". Yes I just told you, even with a BEng or MEng and a first class honors; employment as a graduate or junior is still a tall order. The latest stats from "prospects" website show that only 48% of students with an electrical engineering degree actually work in the Engineering industry(check the link).

Also I bumped into an older buddy who studied a PhD in engineering. He told me was working on his own business for a few years, I thought wow. So I asked what his business was about, he told me he was helping his brother run a Fish & Chips shop LOL.

What can I do with an electrical and electronic engineering degree? | Prospects.ac.uk
(edited 3 weeks ago)
Original post by ibrahim..
If you take the apprenticeship route can you get into teaching afterwards or are you now forced to stay within the engineering lane for the rest of your life? Also it would be really helpful if you could possibly provide any info regarding civil engineering

You have the same options as a full time undergraduate, but ~5 years of work experience that shows you’re actually a competent engineer.
So you could apply for the same grad schemes, or skip that and go straight into an experienced role or study a masters/undergrad in teaching.

I nearly accepted a PhD offer after mine which usually includes some lecturing experience.

Don’t study civil if you can study mechanical.
(edited 1 month ago)

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