Parents still unconvinced by apprenticeships, research shows

06 March 2015 -


University remains “gold standard” for many parents – but bosses say they need more apprentices to meet demand

Jermaine Haughton

Parents still view apprenticeships as less important for their offspring than attending University, according to new research from Demos. Ahead of National Apprenticeship Week, which starts on Monday, the study – produced for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) – has shown that although parents are becoming more supportive on the question of apprenticeships, the perception is still very much that it’s the less academic route, and therefore lesser in general.

ACCA UK’s Andrew Leck said: “The last government invested heavily in university as the pathway to a career, and it is going to take a concerted effort from business, government and professional bodies to make parents realise that apprenticeships are [also] an excellent route. The most telling part of the report was that while more than 90% of parents agree apprenticeships are a good option for young people, only a third think it’s best for their child. University is still seen as the gold standard.“

Unanimous political support for apprenticeships, Leck added, was a valuable source of reassurance – and would help to refresh the debate in the long run. “It’s great to see that parents feel there should be more apprenticeships – but clearly the message about what they are needs to change,” he said. “We’re delighted this report is cross-party: only with consensus and a long-term strategy around change will UK Plc and our young people be able reap the rewards.”

Politicians and business leaders alike have been engaged in recent calls for the creation of more vocational opportunities for school leavers as viable alternatives to university courses. And the organisers of National Apprenticeship Week have been keen to point out the plethora of former apprentices that have made significant waves in the upper echelons of their industries – such as restaurateur and chef Jamie Oliver, fashion designer Alexander McQueen, Formula One engineer Ross Brawn and automotive pioneer Henry Ford: examples that demonstrate the full extent of careers that begin with apprenticeships.

Leck stressed that businesses and the authorities must work harder to offer better career advice and resources for school leavers – and their parents: “ACCA has repeatedly called for greater investment in career advice,” he said, “and this concern has been confirmed again in this report with just 19% had been spoken to about apprenticeships by their child’s school, compared to 45% who have had a conversation about university. We welcome the government’s new Careers and Enterprise Company and hope this will go some way to solving the problem.”

He explained: “Apprenticeships are a vital route into a professional career for those who either choose not to, or cannot – for any reason – go to university … This message is not getting through and the onus is on all of us to do more to raise the standing of apprenticeships especially in the minds of parents, teachers and careers advisors.”

Read about CMI’s backing of apprenticeships in its recent Future Forecast report.

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