Universities minister David Willetts has insisted that entering higher education remains a worthwhile option for British youngsters, but acknowledged that hard work is key to progression.

Responding to recent research from High Fliers, Mr Willetts admitted that the UK employment market is particularly “competitive” for newcomers, but encouraged youngsters to take the time to weigh up their various options.

“A degree remains a good investment in the long term,” he explained. “We continue to encourage employers to offer work experience and internships to help graduates develop valuable skills and boost their employment chances.”

Mr Willetts reiterated the government’s ongoing commitment to improving the provision of internship schemes and claimed more than 28,000 such vacancies had been advertised on the government’s Graduate Talent Pool website since its launch.

Confederation of British Industry director general Richard Lambert stressed the importance of obtaining the kind of skills required by employers and singled out customer awareness and team working as being highly sought-after.

Posted by Ross George