Leading companies are offering the brightest teens jobs straight from school, tempting them to leave college with training salaries of over £ 30,000.
Some companies receive more than 100 applications for each position, while a growing number of school leavers are avoiding £ 9,000 a year courses to jump straight into a career.
Just days before this year’s A-Level results due date, research has found companies like PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), KPMG, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the National Grid are accepting more school leavers This year.
It comes as experts warn middle-class parents against insisting their children earn traditional college degrees.
Mary Curnock Cook, executive director of admissions at UCAS, said parents need to let teens “follow their passions.”
Research from the Mail suggests that companies are increasingly developing training and apprenticeship programs specifically tailored to A-level students, some leading to a degree.
The programs will step up pressure on universities as they compete to fill an additional 30,000 places this year, after the cap on student numbers is lifted.
UCAS boss Mary Curnock says parents need to let their teens follow their passions
The initiatives include the National Grid’s ‘alternative to college’ engineering training program, which pays a salary of £ 23,500, rising to £ 30,150 in two years.
At pharmaceutical company GSK, an apprenticeship program pays a “competitive base salary”, with benefits such as an annual bonus and private health care. Some places require at least three B’s at level A.
Requests have climbed 80% since the program was officially introduced in 2012, from around 1,000 to 1,803 for the start of the 2014 school year.
While there were 40 places available in 2012, the company plans to host 70 baccalaureate holders this year.
Marks & Spencer received 3,000 applications for just 30 places on its Out-of-School Management program – 100 applicants per place.
Its 18-month program is designed to train new managers on the job and requires two A-levels or equivalent qualifications. Meanwhile, PwC, the accounting firm, has so far received 1,650 applications for 140 ‘higher learning’ places within its tax, advisory and insurance teams – nearly 12 applications by place.
Students need a minimum BBC Level A score or equivalent to be considered. The company recruited 103 graduates in 2012 and 120 last year.
Gaenor Bagley, PwC, said: “While the majority of our students are joining us as graduates, an ever-increasing number are joining us directly from school.
PwC, the accounting firm, has so far received 1,650 applications for 140 ‘higher learning’ places within its tax, advisory and insurance teams – nearly 12 applications per place
“We are now seeing a generation of young people evaluate their career and training options differently, whether it is because of university fees, economic forecasts or the reduction in the number of jobs for graduates. “
KPMG, another accounting group, received 1,596 applications for 150 places in its graduation program, in which interns study for a part-time degree. It takes six years to complete the course and KPMG pays the tuition for the recruits.
Rob Wall, CBI, said school-leavers are increasingly ‘savvy’, adding: ‘Learning-while-earning options that deliver top-quality training, avoid tuition fees and offer a job in the end, are more and more attractive. “