Parental preconceptions hamper apprenticeship aspirations


Nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of parents do not understand apprenticeships enough to explain them to their child according to new research.

The research, conducted by AAT, highlight significant gaps in parents’ awareness and understanding of apprenticeships and their benefits, which could prevent the Government’s vision of Higher Apprenticeships being seen as on a par with university degrees from becoming a reality.

The study found 81 per cent of parents are unaware that a Higher Apprenticeship is a university-level qualification. Parents also misjudged the financial benefits of these programmes.

73 per cent underestimated the amount that a young person’s lifetime earnings are boosted by doing a Higher Apprenticeship. A similar number (72 per cent) believed the starting salary for a young person doing a Higher Apprenticeship at a top firm like KPMG to be significantly lower than the actual £20,000 figure.

Common and old-fashioned misconceptions about apprenticeships included that they are geared more towards boys rather than girls (48 per cent) and are for less academically able young people (32 per cent).

When asked what the most important factors to young people securing employment were, parents rated experience of a workplace environment (54 per cent) second only to good GCSE and A-Level exam results (56 per cent).

However, a Higher Apprenticeship – which provides workplace experience and a professional qualification – was ranked a lowly eighth out of nine options, lagging behind extracurricular activities such as music lessons or volunteering (25 per cent) and holiday jobs (28 per cent).

Having a ‘foot in the door’ through existing industry contacts was rated more highly than a university degree (35 per cent compared to 30 per cent).

The research discovered that some parents are completely misinformed about the modern-day apprenticeship; despite employers rating candidates with Higher Apprenticeship qualifications as 25 per cent more employable than those with degrees*** over two fifths (42 per cent) of parents still mistakenly believe that a university degree is viewed as the most employable qualification by employers, and over half (52 per cent) admitted they were surprised about employers positive response to Higher Apprenticeships.

Parents were also surprised about the range of apprenticeships available. For example, 90 per cent of parents were aware that construction firms offered apprenticeships, but only 36 per cent surveyed knew that MPs’ offices also employ apprentices.  

When comparing the current picture with the aims outlined by the Government the research found that a third of parents still do not believe that the apprenticeship route will become as normal for young people as going to university (33 per cent). However, over three quarters of parents would be supportive if their child chose this route (76 per cent).

Jane Scott Paul, Chief Executive of AAT, said: "To compete in a global market, we have to bust myths about options like Higher Apprenticeships and challenge stereotypes. We have a huge youth unemployment problem – vocational education and higher apprenticeships can address this issue and more importantly address the skill shortage. Both young people and parents deserve better careers advice and I urge employers to open up their recruitment processes and to look beyond degrees. If not, we will struggle to change perceptions about Higher Apprenticeships and the opportunities they provide to our young.”

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