Work experience isn't just about making the tea. Whether it is something as simple as getting to an appointment on time, to learning how to take a brief, to managing customer expectations, to working on a major piece of creative research – I’ve learnt more practical skills through real work experience, than I ever picked up on my arts degree.
Having been to university myself, I can see that it opens doors. From network building to developing critical thought, there are lots of reasons to see Further Education as essential to building a career in today's world.
But perhaps it’s not the only way? I've been privileged to be a mentor and partner in business with Career Ready – a UK-wide charity linking employers with schools and colleges to open up the world of work to young people. And it has been a real eye-opener to see how important and life-changing a taste of the world of work can be. Some employers say that graduates are not always ready for the workplace. So work experience, internships and apprenticeships can be just as valuable to building skills for the future as a university degree course.
“We do need to get more role models into schools to challenge the assumption that university is always the best route – more employers speaking to students about what skills they are looking for and former apprentices sharing their experiences. Mandatory work experience also needs to be reinstated,” Donnelly says. Advertisement Donnelly adds that while some graduates earn more, all graduates have to carry around the burden of student debt, whatever job they end up in – and almost half of graduates end up in non-graduate jobs. With the average debt for university leavers now at £44,000, apprentices may find themselves better off in the long run.