The minister for business and education has urged students to skip university and take up apprenticeships if they are looking to train for high-flying careers.
Matthew Hancock has hailed apprenticeships as the new degrees and said the two will soon stand on equal footing.
"We want to go further, offering apprenticeships instead of university, as a route into the professions including insurance, accounting, and law," he wrote on Friday in a blog for the Telegraph.
A report commissioned by the coalition and published in November pressed for a "revolution" in apprenticeships.
"We need to make sure that apprenticeships are the success story they deserve to be," he said. "I want to hear about an 18 year old who looked at their options and turned down a place at Oxbridge to take up an apprenticeship if that is the right path for them.
"And," he added, "I want to hear that their parents were thrilled."
Former Labour schools minister Lord Adonis has also recently spoken out about the need to recognise the importance of apprenticeships. The alternative route to university should be "marketed like UCAS markets university places," he said. "We need as many apprenticeship places for 18-year-olds as there are university places."
Now, it seems, the Conservatives are finally listening.
On Friday, skills minister Hancock advocated apprenticeships as an "effective and prestigious alternative to a solely academic route into the professions".
"University is not for everyone," he said. "There is no reason why you can’t attain the same qualifications, without the degree, starting on-the-job training in an apprenticeship from day one.
"I want apprenticeships spanning craft, technical and professional jobs that open up work-based routes to the top."
Hancock announced apprenticeships at levels six and seven, which are bachelors and masters degree level, would be "officially recognised for the first time".
James Hammill, director of BPP Professional Apprenticeships, which offers law and accounting training, said:
“We are committed to improving social mobility and diversity in the work place by opening up some of the most prestigious professions and employers to school leavers as an alternative to the traditional route.
"Apprenticeships are an excellent way for employers to recruit talent early and design a structured training programme that incorporates technical learning as well as invaluable work based skills.“
Shane Lorriman, who started a British Gas apprenticeship in September, told the Huffington Post: "I felt a firm pressure to follow the expected university trend; whether it was the right career path for us or not felt irrelevant.
"Now I'm pleased I'll be leaving college and getting straight on to the employment ladder. I know I'm on the right path."
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