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  • Writer's pictureAngela Joyce


For too long we have driven young people to follow the same educational journey - school to

university. As a result around 50% of 18 year olds now attend university to study a degree; a figure

that was 10% in the 1980s and 25% in the 1990s. But what about ‘the other 50%’?

Those are young people with talents and attributes, who will flourish through an alternative route

and we must celebrate them too.

Technical skills are needed more than ever before and most college or university degrees are about enhancing academic abilities, not about application or skill development. We need to ensure all young people have good levels of literacy, numeracy and digital skills when they leave school but we must then celebrate that individuals need to make different decisions about what next.

Some young people thrive as apprentices or studying applied qualifications. We need these talents in our workforce (as well as graduates) - shouldn’t we celebrate them in the same way?


A young person completing a level 3 apprenticeship will earn £176,00 more in their lifetime than

someone with just A levels and for someone completing a higher or degree apprenticeship, they

have predicted lifetime earnings similar to someone who has completed a full time college or

university degree – but without the debt. Nine out of ten employers state that apprentices boosted the productivity of their business.

This has to be good for individuals, good for businesses and good for UK PLC!

So why don’t we celebrate the other 50%?


We need to remember that the future is always different from the past. The past though provides us with a platform upon which to base our future decisions. It is great that we are all different and we should be proud to be different – I urge you to create the ‘new normal’ where different educational journeys are celebrated in equal ways.

At a time of huge change in society, let’s change our thinking and recognise difference like we have never done before - let’s celebrate ‘the other 50%’.


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