Young people unlikely to see apprenticeship merits

15 Jul 2016

Apprenticeships have an image problem among young people, our new report has found.

We commissioned a YouGov survey in partnership with qualifications body NCFE that found young people aged 18-24 are the least likely age group to see the merit of an apprenticeship.

Our report, ‘Delivering the apprenticeship ambition’, also finds:

  • An 18-24 year old is almost four times less likely than someone aged 55+ to view an apprenticeship as the best option for an 18 year old. Only 7% of people aged 18-24 considered apprenticeships as the best way forward, while 68% think higher education is the best option
  • Apprenticeships have a particular image problem in London, if they had an 18 year old child, Londoners would be 40% less likely to want them to do an apprenticeship compared to the average across England (12% vs 20%)

The Government’s Apprenticeship Strategy states that “our goal is for young people to see apprenticeships as a high quality and prestigious path to successful careers.”

Our report identifies poor quality careers advice as a key reason for this ‘image problem’ of apprenticeships. We state that in order to change young people’s perceptions of apprenticeships compared to higher education, careers advice in schools must become less narrowly focused on the university route.

We also recommend that a specific approach should be developed for London, to recognise our findings that apprenticeships are less popular among adults in London than elsewhere in the UK.

Our report makes the following recommendations to the government to improve the perception of apprenticeships:

  • Careers advice should promote alternative options to university, such as apprenticeships. It should begin at an earlier age and young people must be informed of the progression routes within industries if they choose a vocational path
  • Increased employer engagement with schools is key to improving the perception of apprenticeships among young people. This should be encouraged by national government policy, but with a flexible model that encourages local partnerships
  • In recognition of their influential role in young people’s lives, parents and family should be a focus of activity to change perceptions
  • Government should seek to increase the minimum wage for apprenticeships to the same as other workers in order to boost the image of apprenticeships

Commenting on the challenge facing the government to deliver their apprenticeship ambition, Reed in Partnership Managing Director Martin Fallon said:

“We support the Government’s aim to increase the number of young people going down the apprenticeship route after school. The benefits of apprenticeships are clear, both for the individuals undertaking them and for the taxpayer. However, our new research highlights the scale of the challenge the government faces to realise this ambition. Apprenticeships continue to suffer from an image problem compared to Higher Education.”

“The very young people the Government wants to consider taking up apprenticeships are the least likely age group to view them favourably.”

“This is a particular problem in London, with Londoners 40% less likely to want their children to do an apprenticeship compared to the average across England.”

Managing Director of NCFE, Emse Winch, said:

“This research confirms what many in the education and skills sector have long suspected; that the apprenticeship ‘brand’ is weak after decades of changes to the system and promotion of a university route. Careers advice in schools must include objective information for young people to be able to make the best decision for their own careers.”