A-level results are in: But what will Manchester’s teens do next?

By Joe Cummings

Yesterday was A-Level results day, with over 200,000 students getting their results. This is the highest number of students yet, up 1.4% on last years’ figures, with results improving for the 29th consecutive year.

However, in the current climate of high youth unemployment, a lack of graduate jobs and the exorbitantly increased price of decreasingly impressive degrees, what alternatives are there for those discovering their fates?

Several theories are currently being debated. More students, in receipt of acceptable results may choose to defer their University applications, in the hope that a buyers’ market may be re-established as institutions are forced to become more competitive on price.

Others may decide that University simply presents too great a financial burden at such an early stage in their lives, and are unwilling to be saddled with £30,000 minimum debts at 21.

A third way is being promoted more than ever this year. For a long time now we have heard jokes of Media Studies graduates languishing in make-do employment, while tradesman around them are raking in the salaries they so desire.

Apprenticeships. We’ve heard it before, but now the message seems to be getting through: Learn a skill, gain experience, steer clear of debt, enter a career.

The coalition Government has promised to increase the funding of vocational training by an extra £222 million a year and create an extra 100,000 apprenticeships across the UK.

Business leaders in Greater Manchester have come together this week to call on the county to continue saying “Yes To Apprenticeships.”

A campaign, managed by Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and its Apprenticeship training provider Skills Solutions, “Yes to Apprenticeships” has brought together key individuals from the arenas of finance, the automotive industry, engineering/manufacturing, construction, and hair care, to champion the initiative.

Employers can employ an apprentice from as little as £5,000 per annum as part of the new Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA) initiative.

Standing on the steps of the Manchester Town Hall, cementing their pledge of support to help raise awareness of the benefits of apprenticeships, and to encourage other Manchester businesses to become involved with the rapidly growing world of vocational training were Mark Howden, Head of Regeneration, Balfour Beatty Capital; Bill Shepherd, Vice President, BNY Mellon; Mark Smeeton, Managing Director, MotorSave Ltd, Swinton; Thor Rooney, Manager and Senior Director, Nicky Clarke Manchester; and Nathan Bluer, of Torkington Engineers.

Speaking about the campaign, Mark Howden from Balfour Beatty Capital, said: “More and more employers are saying yes to appointing an apprentice and we absolutely want to encourage this across the board, regardless of sector.

“An abundance of college and school leavers are looking for practical, training as an alternative to university. Apprenticeships play a vital role in helping businesses to attract, nurture and maintain this type of talent, so as a region it is only right that we are leading by example and embracing on-the-job training.

“Saying yes to taking on an apprentice is saying yes to trained staff, yes to the next generation of talent, yes to Government funding and yes to the future or your company and industry – so the question is, why wouldn’t businesses want to say yes?.

Heather Green, Director of Apprenticeships at Skills Solutions, the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce’s accredited vocational training provider, commented on the opportunities available to college leavers and businesses on A-Level results day.

“Apprenticeships will be high on the agenda as an viable alternative career path, creating a pool of talented young individuals from which businesses in Greater Manchester will absolutely benefit.

“This is a golden opportunity for organisations to employ and train bright, enthusiastic individuals.

“College leavers need to be reassured that with the right guidance and motivation their future is bright.  This is especially true when there is career support and funding on offer from their local authorities, as well as vocational opportunities made available to them from across a wide variety of businesses.

“We want businesses to realise the potential of the region’s younger generation and continue to say ‘yes’ to apprenticeships as a viable business option.”

For businesses that want to learn more about recruiting an apprentice through the “Yes to Apprenticeships” campaign should, visit

Related Articles