Education charity says apprenticeships are the answer to rising student debt

Apprenticeships can be a gateway to countless professions, as well as saving young people over £44,000, says the Edge Foundation.

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Independent education charity, the Edge Foundation, has endorsed the Sutton Trust’s report Degrees of Debt, which suggests young people should take up higher apprenticeships as a debt-free route to a degree.

Edge’s Chief Executive, Alice Barnard, said: “The report makes a persuasive economic case for taking up a Higher Apprenticeship and studying for a degree sponsored by the employer – there are educational and professional advantages aside from saving over £44,000.

“Quality apprenticeships enable young people to study at graduate level and gain the practical experience and skills which employers are crying out for.

“Apprenticeships can be a gateway to countless professions in areas such as journalism, accountancy and law and an opportunity to build a successful and rewarding career.”

There are now 75 Higher and Degree apprenticeships available, including foundation degrees, HNDs and full honours degrees; and 90% of apprentices that stay in employment after their programme

Lucy Ackland, 28, is a project manager with top engineering company Renishaw, where she began as an apprentice aged 16. She now has a first class honours degree in engineering, and won the Women’s Engineering Society Prize in 2014.

Last year she even managed to buy her own three-bedroom home in Bristol – the average age to become a homeowner in the UK is 31, no doubt linked to the fact that student fees here are among the highest in the English-speaking world.

Lucy said: “Graduates who join Renishaw often wish they had had more information about the options open to them and realised that you don’t have to do A-levels and go to university.

“I’ve been working full time since I was 16 so I don’t have university debts. Apprenticeships still have a stigma that people think they are for people who aren’t academic and I hope that will change.”

The Edge Foundation is an independent education charity, which for over a decade has been dedicated to raising the status of technical, practical and professional learning. 

It believes that all young people should have the opportunity to achieve their potential and the UK’s future workforce needs to be equipped with the skills to be successful in the modern, global economy. 

Edge believes that “learning by doing” should be valued equally with academic learning and that all learners should experience a mix of both, and that there are many paths to success. 

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