A Level students given false choice between university and apprenticeships

Just one in four students believe apprenticeships offer a better chance of employment than university education
Schools’ university bias causing low awareness among students of value of apprenticeships

A-Level students considering their next steps are being given a “false choice” between going on to university or an apprenticeship, new research reveals.

According to a survey by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and EY Foundation of 1,510 16-21-year olds, 86% said they had been given guidance from their schools about going to university, but just 48% said they had received information on taking an apprenticeship. Just one in six (17%) say they are aware of the new Trailblazer degree apprenticeships.

The limited information on offer to students is also influencing their views on the value of apprenticeships. Two in three (65%) associate apprenticeships with good job prospects, but only 37% link them to a good career. Two in five (42%) have concerns about the perceived ‘low status’ of apprenticeships, and 67% are worried about low pay. Just one in four (24%) believe that an apprenticeship would offer them a better chance of getting a good job compared to having a university degree.

However, three in five (62%) of those surveyed believe that big employers should be required by law to take on apprentices. Four in five (79%) think there should be more apprenticeships for professional jobs.

The findings reveal the low level of awareness of new trailblazer apprenticeships, which have opened up new higher education opportunities for students. These include the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship, which was created by a 40-strong employer-led group supported by CMI. Leading employers including Serco, Barclays, Boots, Civil Service Learning and Pizza Hut Restaurants are already implementing Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship programmes.

Petra Wilton, CMI’s director of strategy, said that schools and employers must work together to help A-Level students make a more informed choice about their higher education options:

“A-Level students are being left to make a false choice between getting a degree and taking an apprenticeship. But with the new degree apprenticeships this no longer a case of either/or. Students starting the likes of the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship will earn a degree, on-the-job experience and professional status. As more employers look to employ 18-year olds, schools must promote apprenticeships as an attractive route to higher education and employment.”

The survey of students’ attitudes was conducted by CMI and EY Foundation for a new report into young people’s experiences of work before joining the workforce, which is due to be published in September.

Pizza Hut Restaurants is about to welcome its first cohort of five Chartered Manager Degree Apprentices. Kathryn Austin, Chief People and Marketing Officer at Pizza Hut Restaurants, agrees the industry needs to work together to better promote apprenticeships:

“Apprenticeships are a great way for people to increase their skills and knowledge and get a head start in their chosen career. University may not be the right career path for everyone and it’s important for businesses and industry to encourage students to regard apprenticeships as a great way to learn on the job whilst also gaining qualifications.

“We’re proud to be leading the industry with our degree level apprenticeship. A structured programme that includes a mix of academic and practical modules can help people not only gain a fantastic skills base in the hospitality industry, but also skills for life.”

Pendragon PLC welcomed in April this year its first six students onto the Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship scheme. Charlotte Potter, Talent Specialist at Pendragon PLC, looks after the programme:

“We are continually looking for opportunities to recruit new talent pipelines and develop existing talent to a high level, it is part of our business strategy so the CMDA felt like a perfect fit. We are also accrediting our internal development programmes through the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and so the CMDA fits with our current leadership development model. 

“We have invested in our apprentices and know this will pay off in the long run. The programme is shaping the future leaders of our company who will possess a strong base in true professional management. We are planning to recruit another group of Higher Apprentices on the CMDA later on in the year and are looking at how they will best fit within our existing leadership population.”

By 2020, three million apprenticeships are expected to be created, as set out in the Government’s manifesto. In the next year, the Government intends to create 2,000 Degree Apprenticeships, with half of these expected to be the new Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship. According to the National Audit Office, every £1 invested by the Government will generate £18 for the wider economy.

For more information on leadership and management apprenticeships visit: http://apprenticeships.managers.org.uk/ or @cmi_managers #MgtApprenticeships

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Notes to editors

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