Young people leaving school or college face an important choice – go to university or pursue vocational training through an apprenticeship scheme or specialist training centre.
While university remains a popular option for many students, vocational training programs are gaining recognition as an alternative way to launch a successful and rewarding career – and start earning a decent wage much more quickly.
Building services training centres (like Logic4training!) offer industry-specific courses for the plumbing, heating, electrical and renewables sectors. This career-oriented approach contrasts with broader university studies that provide an academic foundation across a variety of disciplines.
Will AI take over the trades?
Deciding on a career path has always involved some degree of uncertainty, but the rapid development of technologies in the artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics sphere make it a more difficult decision than ever before.
Theoretical and analytical skills are most susceptible to replication by artificial intelligence. Machines and algorithms can already outperform humans in tasks such as mathematical calculation, data processing, financial analysis and scientific research.
The building services engineering sector is one of a handful of careers that won’t be negatively affected by AI – autonomous travelling robot tradespeople look unlikely! Computer programmes and apps are already helping tradespeople to do their jobs more accurately and will continue to do so, but hands on skill and human experience will always be required.
Is it better to go to uni or train for the skilled trades?
Of course, the choice all depends on you, your interests and ambitions for the future.
But don’t automatically disregard the trades!
Unfortunately, some very outdated class and gender stereotypes persist, and trade roles are often seen as a route for less academically inclined men who won’t get the grades for uni. This could not be further from the truth!
As we head towards the low-carbon future, the building services engineering sector has so many interesting career paths and will require a much more varied input to solve the challenges associated with decarbonising our homes and buildings.
The sector provides many opportunities – to be your own boss, install the latest renewable technologies and continue career development, adding new skills as you go. Plumbing, heating and electrical work is well-paid, flexible and entrepreneurial, worthy of consideration whatever your school academic record looks like!
Logic4training wants to make the trades accessible to all, we’re signed-up to LCL Awards Inclusivity Charter
Trades vs uni – a comparison
Time to start earning:
- Trades – as an apprentice, you will start earning straight away, but not a full wage until the apprenticeship is complete, which usually takes around 4 years.
Alternatively, some training centres offer new entrants’ routes that are much quicker and could see you earning a starting wage in matter of months. Training consists of centre-based guided learning, covering practical skill, key qualifications, and work experience. During ‘on the job’ training, you will build a portfolio of completed projects under the supervision of an experienced installer – an ideal option for someone leaving college, particularly if they are already gaining practical experience in the trades.
- University – you will be studying for 3 – 8 years, depending on your degree.
- Trades – depending on your starting point (complete new entrant or candidate with relevant skills and/or qualifications) and what area of building services you want to get into, the cost of a new entrant training programme with Logic4training is between £2,700 – £8,000. Our most comprehensive packages also include business support, such as Checkatrade membership and a free website. We offer a range of interest-free and interest-bearing finance options to help you spread the cost over 12 to 36 months.
- University – universities in the UK can charge up to £9,250 per year, so that’s £27,750 for a 3-year undergraduate course, which you’ll start paying back when you earn £27,295 annually. Students also need to pay for living costs – rent, food, transport, learning resources etc. The average debt for students who started their course in 2012/22 is £45,800.
- Trades – the typical starting wage in the building services sector is around £26,000. Tradespeople earn more earlier compared to university graduates. At the age of 22, one of our trainees, Ryan had earned enough from his plumbing career to buy his own house. “Not many of my schoolmates who went to university are in the same position,” he says. “It’s hard to see them now, saddled with large debts, finding it difficult to find work and ending up working back at Tesco’s.” Read more: Ryan’s story. Experienced plumbing, heating and electrical engineers can earn between £30,000 – £50,000 a year, and if you grow your own business, the sky’s the limit.
- University – potential for very high earnings, depending on specialism and sector. The typical graduate scheme wage is around £24,000. Graduates can expect to earn a living wage by the age of 29, compared to 22 for tradespeople.
Type of learning:
- Trades – training is typically hands-on, practical learning. While some theory is required, skills will be developed on purpose-built training rigs and on-the-job, working with skilled engineers.
- University – generally theoretical, academic learning, depending on the field of study. Good writing skills are important to almost all university degrees.
- Trades – growing demand and workforce shortages mean the outlook for trades people is brighter than ever. Building services plays a key role in the UK’s Net Zero ambitions, with plumbing, heating and electrical engineers upskilling into renewable technologies such as heat pumps and solar photovoltaics.
- University – varies greatly depending on field of study. Some generic grad schemes are very competitive.
Risk from AI:
- Trades – low risk due to practical skills required.
- University – varied, with theory and analytical based jobs at risk.
Are you interested in a career as a plumber, heating and hot water installer, gas engineer or electrician? Take a look at our training programmes for new entrants or get in touch – our expert team can guide you through your options and answer all your questions.