Research undertaken by Interserve highlights that there is still much work to do to raise the profile of apprenticeships among three key groups – young people, their parents and many UK employers.
Apprenticeships still lag behind academic-based career paths as the preferred choice among each of the three groups. The study shows that only 7 per cent of the young people polled plan to do an apprenticeship, with 72 per cent planning on going to university or college. Only 27 per cent of the parents surveyed think that an apprenticeship would be most useful for their children in pursuing a future career, versus 42 per cent who believe a university degree is the best option.
The survey also indicates a significant lack of awareness among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) of the different types of apprenticeship schemes available, with only 32 per cent saying they had heard of a Higher or Degree level apprenticeship. However, approximately half (46 per cent) of large companies had heard of these types of apprenticeship.
The study’s findings suggest that there is much to do in building awareness of the options available to help more young people find career opportunities through apprenticeships.
Additionally, the research points to a significant North-South divide in the attitudes of young people and employers towards apprenticeships, with both groups in the South favouring a university degree over work-based learning, compared to those in the North who view apprenticeships more positively.
For example, only 7 per cent of London and South West-based businesses value qualifications from work-based learning, such as apprenticeships, when looking for new recruits, whereas this figure is twice as high (14 per cent) in the West Midlands and stands at 19 per cent in the North East. Furthermore, among the young people surveyed, only 2 per cent of those based in London were looking to take up an apprenticeship as their next educational or career step, which is significantly lower than in the North of England or Scotland (8 per cent).
Adrian Ringrose, Interserve’s Chief Executive, comments:
This report provides a snapshot of attitudes and perceptions towards apprenticeships among young people, parents and employers at a time when the forthcoming Apprenticeship Levy has firmly pushed the topic onto the business agenda. However, as the report shows, much more needs to be done to change perceptions and raise awareness of apprenticeship schemes.
It is evident that apprenticeships suffer from an image problem and lack the prestige assigned to university education. Business, government and educators must all work together to better inform parents and young people about apprenticeships, in order to ensure that these schemes can become a driving force for skills and sustainable careers.
Grace Mehanna, Talent & Skills Director at Business in the Community, which works with businesses to create a fairer society and a more sustainable future, said:
With the Apprenticeship Levy coming into force next year, businesses have more opportunity than ever before to actively shape the skills agenda. Apprenticeships open up new routes into employment beyond graduate schemes, but it’s important for businesses to make sure that these routes are accessible and visible to young people from all backgrounds.
Interserve’s findings show that there is still a long way to go to communicate the full value of apprenticeships to parents and young people. To build a strong and diverse talent pipeline, we would urge businesses to make this a central part of their recruitment strategy.
The nationally representative survey of more than 5,000 people and over 500 businesses undertaken by YouGov, was commissioned by Interserve, to assess how well apprenticeships are currently understood and what challenges there might be to their wider adoption. Interserve, the FTSE-listed international support services and construction company, is one of the UK’s largest private employers.