Apprenticeships – Still the poor relation?

Apprenticeships – Still the poor relation?

Apprenticeship is very much a buzz word when it comes to world of employment and career guidance. We are constantly being informed and involved in discussions about how they constitute a wonderful new pathway into the world of work, and that the routinely fed conveyor belt into university will become less crowded than we have previously seen it.

However, does this actually reflect what is happening on the ground?

Trendence, the employment and student focussed research company, have recently published an excellent report What students really think about Career Planning, university and work, and the results are very revealing.

The report focusses on the different thought processes that young people go through when they are making decisions about their future. They gathered the experiences of over 12,800 students across the UK, and the results are very interesting.

Here is a summary of the findings (it is worth taking a look at the report in full):

Decision Making

  • 52% of students start collecting careers information in Year 10 and Year 11
  • 36% decide on a career in Year 12
  • 31% of students made the decision in primary school that they would rather go to university than do an apprenticeship
  • The report findings revealed a strong belief amongst students that a university degree is the only path to a successful career’.
  • More than 70% of students will still choose to go to university
  • Less than 10% of students state that they want to do an apprenticeship and this decision was made by the majority of students in year 12


  • 76% of students said they received ‘quite a lot or a reasonable amount of advice at school about universities’
  • Only 45% of students stated that they received enough information about apprenticeships however
  • 44% of students were not satisfied with the advice they received and wanted to know more about alternative routes into employment


So the overall, hard-hitting fact that jumps out of this report is that young people see university as the number one route into quality employment – accompanied by a perceived lack of advice regarding the alternative routes available e.g. apprenticeships.

The report also showed that most students turn to parents and family for advice as to whether to go to university or seek an alternative.

Careers advisers are working tirelessly to get the apprenticeship message out there, to the young people they engage with. But this seems to be negated by a lack of awareness at home and amongst peer groups as to what alternatives exist. This needs to change.

Somehow we need to get the message out to the families of students that apprenticeships offer a wonderful route into employment. We need to extol their virtues e.g. paid employment, debt free education, real world of work experience, and remove this existing degree favoured prejudice.

Here at CASCAID, out career profiles display multiple pathways into careers, where they are available. We feature vocational qualifications, and apprenticeship pathways – and we have an apprenticeship finder tool, which allows young people to find a relevant apprenticeship close to them, discover more about it, and if they desire, apply for it!

We are determined at CASCAID to get the message out there that the degree ‘one size fits all’ approach is not the only option – there are many different, exciting pathways into employment, and apprenticeships are certainly one of them! I only wish they had been around when I was young!


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