People with university-level degrees earn one and a half times as much as those without in OECD countries, as Education at a Glance 2013 tells us. These graduates are also more likely to have a job, with 75% of them in full-time employment, compared with 64% of those who did not complete secondary education (high-school).
But going to university is not an automatic guarantee of employment, and at a time of economic uncertainty and rising tuition fees, the prospect of starting one’s adult life already in debt through student loans may deter some. So how to acquire the skills to make you a hot property on the 21st century labour market? One option is apprenticeships, which can involve learning on the job or a combination of classes and work experience.
Countries with well-established vocational and apprenticeship programmes have been more effective in holding the line on youth unemployment, and oftentimes apprenticeships come with a guaranteed job at the end. At the same time, however, some consider vocational education a less attractive option than more academic education; and some research suggests that participation in vocational education increases the risk of unemployment at later ages.
Whatever choice you make, it is unlikely that once you graduate from school, college, or apprenticeship that you will be saying goodbye to education for the rest of your adult life. New technologies mean new jobs, and new skills to perform them in every walk of life. So whatever else you bring away from your education, make sure you do not forget how to learn.