IET: Apprenticeships and professional training seen as better option than degree

London, 08th May 2012: With the cost of degrees set to rise this autumn, the route offered by apprenticeships is a worthwhile alternative career path for future engineers, according to a new report released today by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). Despite the admission that degrees are still generally held in higher regard, both are valid routes to professional engineering qualifications.

The Furthering Your Career report finds that while a balance of theoretical and on-the-job training is required for engineers, many future engineers are currently looking for alternative routes into the profession, and the practical skills offered by apprenticeships could provide the opportunity to do this.

Following interviews with both employees and employers from within the engineering industry, the IET’s opinion-based report concludes that there are a number of benefits that professional qualifications bring to both engineers and their employers. These benefits encompass clear goals, recognition, promotion, customer confidence and a committed and loyal workforce.

Being interviewed for the report, Damon Johnstone, Project Engineer, Engineering & Infrastructure, Brookfield Multiplex Australasia commented, “On the job training is invaluable, for me personally it is what I have benefited from most. Learning how to apply things in real life and how what you have been taught actually comes together puts everything in perspective, for a lot of people things only start to click when they can see it action.”

However, the report also found that despite the undoubted importance, apprenticeships are still not held in high enough regard. Michelle Watt, Asset Improvement Engineer at Tata Steel commented, “Professional qualifications show that your degree is the start of your learning and I think in some arenas they are still not held in as high a regard as a degree, when they should be.”

John Druce, Learning and Development Manager at Arqiva added from the employer point of view, “I feel perceptions are still traditional and the focus of many schools is still on sending pupils to university rather than onto apprenticeships. However, this view may be gradually changing and it's important to recognise that both routes are valuable.”

Stephanie Fernandes, Principal Policy Advisor at the IET comments, “September 2012 will see major tuition fee rises applied by universities, which will likely lead to many potential undergraduates, and future engineers, to consider alternatives to a degree. Given the issues faced by the engineering and technology sectors, apprenticeships really are a viable option and here at the IET we are committed to helping young engineers develop their careers and work towards professional registration, whether they are doing degrees or apprenticeships.”

Notes to Editors
The IET is a source of essential engineering intelligence for its 150,000 members in 127 countries.

In February and March 2012, the IET interviewed seven professionals from within the engineering and technology industries – for their views as employees and employers as appropriate. Some had undertaken Professional Registration with the IET, some had undertaken other vocational training and most had a degree.