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Adios A-level angst – the non-academic route to good careers

Teens who miss their A-Level grades urged not to panic as the global job site Indeed publishes a list of roles that don’t require a university education yet offer strong career prospects.

Teens who miss their A-Level grades urged not to panic as the global job site Indeed publishes a list of roles that don’t require a university education yet offer strong career prospects.

Analysis reveals some non-graduate career paths can lead to big salaries, with the most successful earning more than £50,000 a year. Hope is at hand for any teenagers set to be disappointed by their A-Level results on Thursday, after the world’s largest job site Indeed compiled a list of jobs which offer excellent prospects but don’t need degree-level qualifications.

Indeed analysed tens of thousands of job adverts to identify five roles open to school leavers which have the potential to develop into fulfilling careers.

Top 5 jobs with good career prospects open to school leavers:

  1. Personal Assistant: £27,441
  2. Trainee Engineer: £23,269
  3. Media Production Assistant: £19,160
  4. Assistant Chef: £16,953
  5. Junior Office Manager: £15,314

Another option for ambitious teenagers who feel university isn’t for them is to do an apprenticeship – which will allow them to earn both a salary and a qualification. Apprentices are paid while they train, and frequently enjoy strong long-term earning potential. Government figures show nearly a third (29 percent) of graduates earn less than those who entered work via an apprenticeship rather than a degree.

And while the stereotypical image of an apprentice might be of a tool-wielding  teenager learning a manual trade, this couldn’t be further from reality. The most common apprentice roles available on Indeed include positions in business administration, IT support and even social media.

For teenagers (and their parents) looking to the future, the myth that not having a degree bars someone from a high-paying job is also dispelled after Indeed detailed five non-graduate roles which each pay more than the UK average wage of £28,000.

Top of the list are construction managers, who can expect to earn £53,094 – nearly double the average national salary. While some construction managers have a foundation degree or HND, many learn the skills by working their way up through the ranks.

Top 5 best-paid jobs that don’t require a degree:

  1. Construction Manager: £53,094
  2. Maintenance Manager: £38,625
  3. Fitness Manager: £34,912
  4. Executive Assistant: £33,260
  5. Pilot: £31,477

Such attractive salaries will give pause for thought to teenagers pondering whether to press ahead with a degree course. The average student now racks up debts of £55,000 during a typical three-year university course, making a degree an expensive investment – especially for those who miss their predicted A-Level grades and who are forced to go through clearing.

Bill Richards, UK Managing Director at Indeed, comments: ‘’While many teenagers will be celebrating this morning, our findings will make reassuring reading for those disappointed by their grades. For students who miss their expected A-Level grades, clearing can still offer a route into university; and our research shows there are many attractive career options for those who decide a degree isn’t for them.

‘’It’s still widely assumed that a worker will earn more in their lifetime if they have a degree, but this ‘graduate premium’ is steadily being eroded. Some non-graduate career paths can lead to roles that don’t just pay well, but pay well over the national average salary.

“Alternatively there are apprenticeships, which are now available in a wide range of white-collar professions. Increasingly seen as a genuine alternative to a degree, apprenticeships are attracting thousands of ambitious school-leavers keen to combine their studies with a salary rather than debt.’’


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