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Signs that British youngsters could be reconsidering the value of a university education

Search volume for "electrician apprenticeships"

Google search traffic for vocational career information more than doubled on the day British high school students received their grades.

There’s currently a skills gap in the construction sector, so it’s encouraging to see that people are interested in apprenticeships and training in the skilled trades.”
— Nick Bizley, director of operations at Aspect.
MANCHESTER, UK, August 21, 2019 / -- As hundreds of thousands of students in England and Wales received their A-level results (equivalent to a high school diploma) earlier this month, media reports painted a picture of declining attainment. The proportion of students receiving the top grades and the overall number of students receiving offers from their preferred university had both dropped, the former metric shrinking for the first time in 12 years.

Coupled with the increasing cost of a university education, plus economic uncertainty in the UK, it’s perhaps unsurprising that students may be re-evaulating the benefits of an expensive university education.

Another data point that flew almost completely under the radar suggests that vocational careers may currently be more appealing. Researchers for property maintenance firm recorded that around the time students would be receiving their grades, Google searches relating to careers in the skilled trades spiked significantly, in some cases doubling.

According to the research, search enquiries relating to careers and training for tradespeople increased significantly on the day most students received their grades. Searches related to starting a career as an electrician were the most popular.

Using data from Google Trends, the researchers measured search traffic for a variety of terms which would suggest intent to pursue a career as a tradesperson, for example “electrician training” and “electrician apprenticeships near me”.
Interest in potential earnings for these vocations spiked too. Search volumes for trades, accompanied with the search modifier “earnings” or “salary” spiked a few hours after the grades were issued.

Nick Bizley, director of operations at Aspect says: “There’s currently a skills gap in the construction sector, so it’s encouraging to see that people are interested in apprenticeships and training in the skilled trades. It’s interesting too that there appears to be a spike in interest in and around A-Level results day.
“This suggests that students are exploring their options more widely, which is always a good sign. If young people are taking A-levels and then considering an apprenticeship or vocational training, they’re equipping themselves for a rewarding and very worthy career. Good for them.”

Sean O'Meara
Essential Content
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