25th July 2012
University or apprenticeship?
To go to uni or not to go to uni? That is the question. As people go through their secondary high schooling adventure, they are hit with all sorts of promotional material about university and how good it could be, and the great jobs on offer when you finish a degree. While I agree uni is a viable learning process for some people, a trade is just as good – if not better.
In a previous life, I was the Apprentice Coordinator for Goonyella Riverside Mine in central Queensland. We used to employ about 80 apprentices with an intake of about 20 apprentices a year. One of our candidates, who we put on into an electrical apprenticeship, had completed his first year of an electrical engineering degree but found the study too rigorous and he was not enjoying the work he was doing. He had decided to complete an electrical apprenticeship, and once he had finished would decide whether or not he wanted to go back to uni. He was an outstanding electrical apprentice, and at the end of his 4th year he moved out of central Queensland and down to Brisbane. Five or six years later, after I had left central Queensland myself, I happened to meet him at Garden City Shopping Centre in Brisbane. We caught up over a cup of coffee and he explained that he’d gone back to uni, found the study really easy because of his electrical trade background, and at times actually caught out his lecturers because his learning was based in a practical setting rather than theoretical. He had now secured a job in a large manufacturer of transformers and was loving his job. He said the best part of having done an apprenticeship was that he could apply what he’d learnt at uni into the real world and when he went down on the shop floor, he could relate to the supervisors and tradesmen who were doing some of the work that he had designed.
Don’t get me wrong – uni is a great way to go, but so is a trade. You will find that the theory at uni is sometimes difficult to get across without having a practical background in how things work and why they work that way. Not only that, getting paid as an apprentice while you learn certainly beats going to uni, having to scrape by while you complete your studies and having a large HECS debt at the end. So university or apprenticeship? That’s a good question.
University or apprenticeship