Image of apprenticeships as a career path improving among parents

Posted on 14 Nov 2013 by Tim Brown

Although some prejudices still exist

Almost half (46%) of British parents of children aged 11-18 surveyed by YouGov would encourage their children to take an apprenticeship but 14% still maintain that apprenticeships are a second rate route to work by comparison with a university degree.

The research released today at The Skills Show in Birmingham involved a study of over 2,000 parents of children aged 11-18 and was commissioned by BAE Systems and the Royal Academy of Engineering.

The study showed a positive shift in attitudes towards apprentices with 29% of those surveyed reporting that they now see the training schemes as a viable option for their children, admitting that five years ago an apprenticeship was not something they would have ever considered.

In particular, 42% said that their perception of apprenticeships had changed positively in the last year, while over two thirds (67%) were pleased that apprenticeships are now presented as an attractive option for young people.

Close to half (43%) agreed that an apprenticeship is the smart way to get an education leading to a good job and over a quarter (26%) concurred that an apprenticeship is more useful than a university degree in view of the on-the-job training provided.

Despite an overall positive shift in attitudes however, the research illustrated that old prejudices towards apprentice schemes – particularly among higher earning households – still remain. Those with incomes of £100,000 or more were more than twice as likely (12%) as those with a household income of between £35,000 and £39,999 per year (5%) to see apprenticeships as something they would encourage other people’s children to do, but unsuitable for their own offspring.

Almost half (46%) of parents surveyed admitted they are worried by the amount of student debt young people can accrue – up to £43,5002 – but acknowledged it doesn’t put them off persuading their children to go to university.

“It is fantastic to see that the huge amount of work put into promoting the value and image of apprenticeships over the last few years is now making a real impact,” said Sir Richard Olver, BAE Systems’ chairman. “We need to encourage more organisations throughout the UK to offer apprenticeships – our own experience at BAE Systems has demonstrated their value to our young people and our business.”

The research has been released today ahead of a debate being jointly hosted the Royal Academy of Engineering and BAE Systems at the Skills Show, which will explore the perceptions, value and future of apprenticeships in the 21st century.

The debate will be chaired by Lord Digby Jones and will see speakers including Rt Hon Matthew Hancock MP, Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise and Sir Richard Olver FREng, Chairman, BAE Systems, contribute their views on the role apprenticeships will play in closing the skills gaps in engineering and technology in particular.