Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Learn on the Job for a Debt-Free Start; with Tuition Fees Rising and No Guarantee of a Job, a Fast-Track Qualification in Accounting Can Be an Attractive Alternative to a Degree

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Learn on the Job for a Debt-Free Start; with Tuition Fees Rising and No Guarantee of a Job, a Fast-Track Qualification in Accounting Can Be an Attractive Alternative to a Degree

Article excerpt

Byline: SARAH RICHARDSON

[bar] FINDING a job is the biggest concern of young people across the UK, according to the results of research carried out by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT).

The survey asked 16- to 18-year-olds about their thoughts on their futures. Results showed the biggest worry, for 37 per cent, was finding work, followed by having enough money (25 per cent), finding a life partner (13 per cent) and being in debt (12 per cent).

The majority believed university was the best pathway to a job, with 79 per cent saying they were planning to go to university. Yet, 61 per cent of those surveyed did not know that tuition fees for a three-year course could cost up to [pounds sterling]27,000.

Jane Scott Paul is chief executive of the AAT, the UK's leading qualification and membership body for accounting and finance staff.

She believes that the survey results are indicative of the social and economic problems currently plaguing young adults, including a challenging job market and rising tuition fees. She points to recent statistics released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency which show that more than a third of graduates from the 2010/2011 cohort are unemployed or underemployed, working in roles for which a degree is not necessary. Furthermore, nearly 15 per cent of graduates have taken up part-time, voluntary or unpaid work.

"With the average student debt rising to [pounds sterling]45,000 and a degree no longer a guaranteed pathway into finding a job, university is not the attractive option it once was," she says. "The reality is graduates are ending up in menial and low-skilled jobs for which a degree is just not necessary."

The AAT accounting qualification offers a fast-track, non-graduate route into chartered accountancy. School leavers who go through this route can qualify much quicker than someone who goes to university.

"Young people should be aware that university is not the only way to establish a career," says Scott Paul. "There are alternatives available. Apprenticeships are proving to be a viable option for young people looking to secure longterm employment and improve their future career prospects. In the case of accountancy, following this route into the profession means a school leaver can become chartered much quicker than a university graduate -- at little or very often no cost to themselves. …

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