According to a new survey conducted by YouGov young people, aged 18 – 24 are least likely to see the merit of an apprenticeship.
The survey, which was carried out online showed that apprenticeships, despite the efforts of government to promote them, still suffer from a serious image problem. The results showed that 68% of young people, aged 18 – 24 thought that the best option was university, compared with only 7% who thought that the best option was an apprenticeship. It looks as if the government’s goal “for young people to see apprenticeships as a high quality and prestigious path to successful careers” isn’t going too well. Why is this?
What do young people say about apprenticeships?
Moving On spoke with one young person, Mel, a student of creative writing and English literature who has ambitions to become a journalist who told us that,
A-levels followed by university study is still seen by most young people as the way the go. There is a perception amongst young people that the best and highest paid jobs come from studying for a university degree.”
She also pointed to the fact that many young people either feel or are actively pushed into university study by their parents. Equally, many schools still assume that all sixth form students in their care will progress to university.
Are apprenticeships promoted enough?
When we asked Mel about whether there was a problem with careers advisers not promoting apprenticeships to young people as a viable option she indicated that this perhaps wasn’t the greatest problem with apprenticeships, but that actually young people simply didn’t have enough readily available information about apprenticeship opportunities more broadly. For example, as someone hoping to go into journalism, she was unaware that apprenticeships in areas such as journalism existed and was keen to stress that no amount of simply telling young people that apprenticeships are great will convince them that they are a good option for them.
Applying for apprenticeships
Interestingly she pointed to how easy it was for young people to apply for a variety of university courses (in one go) but that there seemed no similar option for apprenticeship schemes, which seemed to rely on lots of individual applications.
Of course, one thing to bear in mind is that for many young people, the idea of applying for a university course and having an insurance choice and being almost guaranteed a place on that course as long as they get the necessary grades can appear a lot more attractive than the prospect of competing against lots of candidates for perhaps one apprentice position and therefore to a certain extent the numbers play an important part.
The availability of apprenticeships
The other issue was location. Speaking with Mel it became clear that even when young people are told that an apprenticeship route is available in the field that they want to work in, the fact that they then might struggle to find an appropriate position in the right location can be off putting – after all, if you live in the Midlands and you want to be a journalist but can only see a journalism apprenticeship advertised in London, then, on an apprentice wage, you may feel excluded from that opportunity.
The biggest issue seems to be that regardless of the efforts made by many careers advisers, educationalists and employers, young people, as Mel told us, still hold the view that apprenticeships are really for hands-on roles such as those in construction and therefore simply do not register as an option for many young people and this perhaps is borne out by the survey results.
The final thing that became clear speaking with Mel was that young people follow the lead of and listen more attentively to other young people. The drive by government officials to promote apprenticeships therefore might be persuading older people (the highest percentage of people who thought apprenticeships were the best option was in the 55+ bracket), but not the younger generational who may be inclined not to trust that politicians have their best interests at heart.