During his term as Prime Minister, Tony Blair used to say that Labour’s target was to get 50% of British youngsters into university.

A decade or so later, our university graduates face severe difficulties in finding employment. It was tempting to add ‘secure’ in that sentence, but it really concerns any job at all. Sadly, American-style unpaid internships are becoming more commonplace in England, as are zero-hours contracts, which offer a precarious existence to say the least.

Fortunately, our youth have done a quick study of the situation. More secondary school students are opting once again for apprenticeships instead of university.

And why not? They will come out with a useful skill, provided they stick with the programme, limit their sick days and choose something other than Labour’s NVQ in Cake Decorating.

For many years, apprenticeships were seen to be uncool and something for losers. There is some evidence that these programmes have been dumbed down; most would not fit your grandfathers’ concept of apprenticeships.

As to whether this trend will prove fruitful, Telegraph commenter Tess_Tickles offers the following tongue-in-cheek observations:

But whatst wille themme do at ye dinner party for chat? Ye apprenticeshippe doth not sounde cool, it soundeth like thou worketh in a gasworks or as ye mechanic.
No yeare out to bleat on aboute or endlesse name dropping of writers and artists thou canst refer to whenst in ye study of Humanities, etc? No sleepe ins and wagging offe or plagiarism.

And, if all else fails:

Crime be another option-especially in  ye tymes of late- wherest thou canst do an ‘apprenticeshippe’. Taketh burglary for example, flexible, part time hours, tax free and verye lucrative. Even if ye get caught, a prison sentence be unlikely; and if thou art attacked on ye job thou can sue. All of ye aforementioned whilst stille claiming ye benefits; tis verily a win win situation.

Happy days!