THE boss of a website dedicated to spreading awareness of the alternatives to university is urging young people in the North-East to think seriously of vocational training and apprenticeships.

Spencer Mehlmen, managing director of the snappily entitled website, said: “It would be fantastic to see more students within the North-East undertaking apprenticeships and vocational training, realising their potential and defying stereotypes.”

This year’s apprenticeship and vocational training guide produced by the website shows the numerous benefits of heading straight into career-based training after leaving secondary education.

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The guide is completely free to download from and includes a foreword from successful business entrepreneur James Caan.

The former Dragons’ Den investor left school at the age of 16 without sitting any O Levels and is therefore a role model for those who are thinking of taking an alternative route themselves.

Over recent years the North-East has struggled with social issues such as high unemployment rates and teenage pregnancies.

However, according to the boss of, stereotypes shouldn’t hold anyone back and this is the ideal time for students to get out there and earn whilst they learn. Mr Mehlmen points out that the region has beautiful rural scenery with a large investment in green energy, and compared to the rest of the UK the cost of living and house prices are low.

Statistics show that although the number of apprentices within the workplace in the North-East has risen from 18,510 to 35,870 between 2009 and 2013, the region has had the lowest number of apprentices across the UK since 2009.

So far this year, the region has 7,580 apprentices in the workplace, which is low in comparison to the North -West which this year already has 16,900 apprentices in the workplace.

The notgoingtouni website fully support the regional and government initiative to get 50 per cent of engineering firms within the North-East to take apprentices by 2016.

However, there are already numerous apprenticeships and vocational training options available within the region, including with Network Rail, PwC and SkillsActive.

The free-to-download guide features case studies from young people who have chosen to embark on apprenticeship schemes and vocational training, information from businesses that have such schemes available (including Starbucks, Mercedes and PricewaterhouseCoopers) and details surrounding the various kinds of apprenticeships out there; including specifics on what is available across the nine regions of the UK.

Among all of this, the guide also lists useful resources for those seeking an apprenticeship and demonstrates that even the unexpected sectors offer apprenticeship schemes, from agriculture, construction and engineering to law, publishing and retail. The comprehensive 122-page guide, which is free to download, use and reproduce can be found at

Mr Mehlman, added: “All students have the right to know about all of the options available to them upon leaving secondary school, and it’s our mission to ensure this happens so that they can make an informed decision that they feel will be best for their career and their future.

"We know that when students near the end of school, sixth form or college they find that their teachers put them under immense pressure to decide there and then what they want to do, and the majority of the time teachers only discuss the option of university.

“It’s possible to pave yourself a fantastic career without having to attend university for three or more years. It’s possible, and sometimes more beneficial, to undertake an apprenticeship whereby you learn whilst you earn, and with so many companies – large and small – offering such schemes, we want to make sure students are fully aware of all options before making a decision."