Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Stamp out the stigma around apprenticeships

New research finds adults living in England think apprenticeships trump university for skills development and value for money. Yet, a majority would still choose university as a route to upskill.

New research published today by leading skills development organisation City & Guilds Group reveals a clear stigma when it comes to apprenticeships, with people reluctant to choose this training route, despite being fully aware of the advantages. City & Guilds Group is calling for schools and Government to collaborate with businesses to raise awareness of the career-boosting benefits of apprenticeships, in particular for young people.

The research polled almost 2,000 adults in England and found that apprenticeships are considered to outrank university education when it comes to value for money (57% vs 5%), longevity of skills (39% vs 13%) and preparing young people for the workplace (54% vs 6%).

Apprenticeships are also seen as the best route for setting up young people for future career success, out of all training options currently available to under 25s. Three quarters (73%) of respondents believe apprenticeships are good at preparing young people for future careers, while just over half (52%) would say the same for undergraduate degrees.

However, when asked what they would consider as a route to develop their own workplace skills, the vast majority of respondents said that they would be more likely to go to university (50%) than do an apprenticeship (30%). 

Kirstie Donnelly MBE, Interim CEO at City & Guilds Group, comments: 

“This research highlights that there continues to be a stigma attached to taking an apprenticeship. Despite people telling us that they are aware of the benefits that apprenticeships can bring, there’s clearly still significant work to be done to make sure everyone understands the array of well-paid and challenging careers that an apprenticeship could unlock.”

“More must be done now to promote apprenticeships both within schools and, more generally, amongst the public. We would like to see greater collaboration between businesses, the Government and schools to promote this fantastic training route to people of all ages.”

City & Guilds Group’s findings are closely aligned with the Government’s latest Social Mobility Barometer, which found that overall, apprenticeships are thought to provide young people with the best opportunity for progression. And yet, young people themselves are more likely to believe that the best opportunities lie in university education.

The new research from City & Guilds Group highlighted that other vocational training routes are also valued by people living in England. When it comes to the best qualifications and training routes for setting up young people for future career success, BTECs / City & Guilds and similar technical qualifications were ranked second best (57%), after apprenticeships, scoring higher than Undergraduate degrees (52%), A-Levels (52%) and GCSEs (52%).

Kirstie Donnelly MBE continued: 

Apprenticeships will be vital to enabling the UK to deliver key pieces of planned Government strategy, such as the National Infrastructure Plan as well as helping to fill roles in growing industries such as Health and Social Care. However, currently they are likely to struggle to meet the demand if more isn’t done to encourage people of all ages to consider an apprenticeship as a good option.”

In light of these findings, City & Guilds Group is calling on Businesses, the Government and schools to take action, including the implementation of funding and policy levers to drive changes in perceptions and choices at the very earliest stages of people’s working lives:

  • In order to move the dial and really see an uplift in the number of young people taking up apprenticeships, schools and colleges need to be recognised for the number of young people they direct into all training routes, not just academic routes such as A-Levels and University.
  • Government also needs to ensure that schools deliver robust, impartial careers advice, and are therefore equipped to tell young people about the range of opportunities that apprenticeships offer – as well as universities. 
  • Schools need to increase the amount of exposure that young people have to employers during their time there, in order that they’re given more experiences of potential careers and the world of work.
  • Finally, it is imperative that we see more examples of leaders, whether in business or Government, who have taken vocational routes themselves and are ready to stand behind them.