Apprenticeships vs Graduates

I often get asked by employers what is best, Apprentices or Graduates? That age-old debate. Well, although I am the CEO of an Apprenticeship training provider, my answers always remain unbiased….

It is a business decision and they both come with their own advantages and disadvantages.

It’s the ying & yang effect in equal balance. So, let me add some light to this debate…

The Benefits of Apprenticeships

Taking on an Apprentice within your organisation opens a path to shape a career from scratch within your business. These individuals are keen learners and are often experiencing industry at an entry level, so from day one, they learn your processes, products and ethos. By the end of the Apprenticeship, they are very much a reliable asset to business with a solid company knowledge. The cost of employing an Apprentice is on the lower side of the scale as the employer must pay for the Apprenticeship education via a levy fund or through government funding. The path through academic success is generally a slow one due to the employment commitments. Many Apprentices go onto higher education, and many business leaders in manufacturing and engineering have come from the Apprenticeship route.

The experiences of the Apprenticeship route for companies is to learn current techniques and to support the demands of industry.

The Benefits of Graduates

There are more and more people entering University from school and college to further their specialist academic knowledge. This specialist knowledge of 3+ years of full time study presents a highly skilled candidate to the marketplace. What they may lack in practical work experience over an Apprentice, they more than make up for it in specialist techniques for making your business more effective. Graduates are more likely to challenge current methods and improve them making businesses stronger and more future proof. The entry level salary is much higher than an Apprentice and Graduates seek to be provided with challenging roles that make use of their knowledge gained at university. Many Graduates come with the management and communication skills learnt through their degree to become business leaders. This route can be a fast track into industry management.

The experiences of the Graduate route for companies is to learn and develop optimised techniques and meet the changing customer demands of industry.

So, my advice is there is never a winner between Apprenticeships and Graduates, and nor is it a competition. Both are great for business if used in the right way for the right roles.

I have seen first-hand how Apprentices succeed in industry because the infrastructure of a defined role, education program, mentor and supportive business. They will thrive in industry providing a knowledgeable and reliable asset to your organisation.

I’ve also witnessed Graduate engineers within industry making huge gains in taking on projects to support customers, winning new business and strengthening businesses with highly skilled professionals. I have also seen Graduates mentor Apprentices through their work projects, technical support, and mentoring through their Apprenticeship journey.

So, in a nutshell they are all one very effective workforce.

Now that really is YING and YANG!

NITAL have been instrumental in providing Apprenticeship training and support to the businesses of Northamptonshire for the last 50 years. We actively engage with companies to define apprenticeship programs that are specific to their business skills requirements. We also provide companies with focused business improvement techniques and safety courses to support skills gaps in industries.


Call our dedicated team on 01536 408188 for further information on how we can help your business grow.


Paul Dunlop CEO of NITAL
Paul Dunlop CEO of NITAL