Not for them: Why aren’t teenagers applying for apprenticeships?

A new study, by education marketing consultancy GK and Partners, claims three-quarters (75%) of sixth-formers would consider an apprenticeship more seriously if degree apprenticeships were offered in their chosen career. FE News reports.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of the 1,051 young people interviewed also say that they would be more likely to apply for an apprenticeship if a UCAS-style format was available. At present, would be apprentices must apply to individual companies.

The findings – from the first study to look specifically at Year 12 and 13 student views of apprenticeships – make grim reading for those championing the alternative post-school career path. Only one in six (16%) 16-18 year-olds is currently thinking of applying for an apprenticeship, compared to 96% considering university.

The low numbers of youngsters who say they are interested in apprenticeships will worry the Government, especially given that most are aware of the advantages of high-level programmes. Over three-fifths (61%) say that they understand that a degree apprenticeship means course fees will be paid for them, that they will earn a salary straight away and they will get a degree without any student debt.

The research also suggests that teenagers associate apprenticeships with lost social opportunities. Over three-fifths of sixth-formers (62%) worry that they will lose out on the prospect of meeting new people at university. And a third (33%) believe that by doing an apprenticeship they will miss out on the opportunity to meet a future girl/boyfriend that attending university will provide.

Pay perception is also a problem. Over half (51%) think apprenticeship starting salaries are too low. The research revealed the average starting apprentice salary needed to get a student to turn their back on a place at university is £20,531 per annum.

One glimmer of hope is that less than a quarter (23%) of young people now think of apprenticeships as being for people who don’t get the grades to go to university. However almost half (45%) still worry that they are too low status and not valued by employers.

We commissioned the study because while there have been many polls into employer views towards apprentices there has been very little exploration of school-leaver attitudes.

Unless employers and policymakers start to understand what is stopping sixth-formers considering apprenticeships as a valid career path they will not attract the candidates that businesses need.

Read more report findings Not for them: Why aren’t teenagers applying for apprenticeships?

What can be done to encourage more sixth-formers into apprenticeships? More advertising? More educating of teachers and parents? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin 

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Categories: Apprenticeships, Further Education, Secondary and University.


  1. Adrian Oldfield

    The branding of Apprenticeships is not so bad, the kids don’t mind the idea of starting one. The problem is the schools and providers don’t work together and the drop off rates mean that the void will always be present

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