One of the mantras of our society is that, if you want success in your career and life, you need to attend university and graduate with a degree. However, as recent student demonstrations underscore, the cost of a higher education is on the rise. It’s difficult to get excited about attending university when you know that you are going to be in debt (even with your RESP savings) when you finish.
What if you can’t land a job that pays you enough to make your education debt worth it?
One of the up and coming ways to reduce the costs of an education is to seek an apprenticeship, rather than a degree program. You develop a marketable skill, but without the cost of attending university.
Is an Apprenticeship More Valuable than a Degree?
In some cases, it turns out that an apprenticeship is more valuable than a college degree. Indeed, two recent studies focus on the benefits of apprenticeships when it comes to earning power. The Globe and Mail reports on the results of one of these studies:
The first study, by University of Toronto professors Morley Gunderson and Harry Krashinsky, found male apprentices earn 24 per cent more than those with just a high-school diploma, 15-per-cent more than those with other trades and 2-per-cent more than college graduates.
Did you read that last bit? You could see a 2 per cent better salary than a university graduate, if you choose the right apprenticeship. The article goes on to point out that women don’t fare as well, unless they follow a traditionally male-dominated field, like mechanics.
Apprenticeships have long been a staple in some European countries, but haven’t had much success in Canada. However, it might be time to consider an apprenticeship. Not everyone does well in college, and an apprenticeship offers some things that a college degree program doesn’t. Plus, following an apprenticeship costs significantly less than a college education.
Advantages of an Apprenticeship
There are many advantages to pursuing an apprenticeship. Instead of trying to figure out how you will scrape by as a starving college student, you could actually be getting hands on experience and developing a marketable skill that is actually in demand. Here are some of the advantages of an apprenticeship:
- Costs much less than a college degree. You finish your education with less debt.
- Your RESP can be used to help pay for an apprenticeship.
- When you are finished, you have real-world experience. Many university graduates don’t have that advantage. An apprenticeship not only provides you with knowledge, but it also furnishes experience.
- You make connections with others in your field. That can help you as you look for a job later.
Of course, an apprenticeship isn’t for everyone. For some career paths, you really do need a college education. At the same time, though, not everyone needs a university degree — and not everyone has the desire to study for a degree. Before you assume that you have to graduate from university with a degree in order to succeed, consider your options. And remember that the right apprenticeship can lead to a job that is more lucrative than many of the jobs college graduates are getting.