Apprenticeships still overlooked by young people says new report

Head of West Midlands training provider brands the findings 'disappointing but not surprising'

Apprenticeships still overlooked by young people says new report

Misconceptions around apprenticeships are still influencing the decisions of young people in their career paths, according to new research. The survey of more than 1,000 people across England found that more than half (51 per cent) of people aged between 18 and 24 still believed a university degree would make you more likely to earn a high salary than doing an apprenticeship.

The research also found that almost 49 per cent believed apprenticeships were better suited to those who did not get high enough grades to go to university.

The head of one West Midlands training provider branded the findings "disappointing but not surprising".

BDO's report also found that some respondents felt an apprenticeship could have a negative impact and more than a third (34 per cent) believed you were less likely to reach the most senior positions within a business if you did an apprenticeship rather than a university degree.

Almost two thirds (62 per cent) of respondents in the West Midlands and 61 per cent in the East Midlands said their school or college encouraged them to go to university rather than apply for an apprenticeship.

Rob Colbourne is chief executive of West Midlands-based training provider Performance Through People.

The firm is a partner in our Greater Birmingham Apprenticeship Awards, which take place in November and are open for entries now, and also the Ladder for Greater Birmingham campaign which is matching employers up with apprentices and training.

Mr Colbourne said: "Although the findings from the recent BDO research regarding apprenticeships are disappointing, unfortunately they are not surprising. Colleagues who work in the apprenticeship arena have had decades of informing schools, teachers and parents that an apprenticeship isn't a last resort.

It has as much value as a university or college place and usually leads to at least a Level 3 qualification (2 A Levels) and can progress to a degree while earning a salary and not being left with several thousand pounds worth of educational debt. Many of the leaders in organisations we work with started off on an apprenticeship and huge brands such as HS2, Openreach, AF Blakemore and Jaguar Land Rover recruit utilising the apprenticeship levy.

"Although there are many educational establishments that do offer a fantastic information advice and guidance service to their students, many do not and see apprenticeships as a last resort rather than the fantastic opportunity they can offer. Until we have teachers who have gone through the apprenticeship route and a government that puts apprenticeships on an

equal funding footing with colleges and universities, we will continue to have to fight our corner."

Sarah Hillary, a partner in BDO's digital and risk advisory services team, added: "Despite school leaver apprenticeships being a well-established route into many well-paid professions, including accountancy and law, our research demonstrates that there are still misconceptions about this career path.

It is also concerning that more than a third believe doing an apprenticeship rather than a degree could be a barrier to reaching the most senior positions within a business. While a university education is still a highly regarded achievement, it can also bring a significant amount of debt and additional costs.

"As the cost-of-living crisis continues to take hold, university may not always be the most attractive or accessible route for young people, particularly those from a lower socio-economic background.

"With this in mind, it is important to not just increase the number of quality apprenticeship positions but also raise awareness of how this type of training can create meaningful, sustainable careers while giving the opportunity to earn while you learn. This would be a step in the right direction to improving social mobility in the UK."