Parents show positive shift towards apprenticeships

Almost a third of parents previously dismissed apprenticeships as a viable career choice but have now changed their views, new research suggests.

A survey of 2,000 parents of children aged 11-18 found 42 percent had gained a more positive view of apprenticeships in the last year and 29 percent said they saw such schemes a viable option for their own offspring but would never have considered it five years ago.

The research, commissioned by BAE Systems and the Royal Academy of Engineering and carried out by YouGov, also found parents on higher incomes were more than twice as likely as those with average incomes to see apprenticeships as good for other people’s children but not their own.

‘If the UK’s industrial strategy is to be successful in its delivery, we will need a much bigger push for apprenticeships and other vocational pathways to engineering careers, so I am delighted to see that perceptions are changing for the better,’ said Academy president Sir John Parker, a former apprentice who went on to lead several major British engineering firms and achieved a doctorate degree.

A total of 46 per cent of parents questioned said they would encourage their own children to take an apprenticeship and 26 per cent said such training was more useful than a university degree because of the on-the-job training provided.

But while 46 per cent of parents surveyed admitted they were worried by the amount of student debt universities students can accrue – up to £43,500 – they acknowledged it wouldn’t put them off persuading their children to go to university, and 14 per cent said apprenticeships were a second-best career choice compared to a degree.

Those with incomes of £100,000 or more were more than twice as likely (12 per cent) as those with a household income of between £35,000 and £39,999 per year (five per cent) to see apprenticeships as something they would encourage other people’s children to do but that were unsuitable for their own offspring.

Skills and enterprise minister Matthew Hancock, who studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University before working for his family’s business and later became a politician, said: ‘I want choosing to go to university or beginning an apprenticeship to become the new norm for young people, and I’m pleased to see that attitudes are changing.

‘There is still work to do though and we have recently carried out an extensive review of Apprenticeships in the UK. I am looking forward to delivering a reformed system that works even better for employers as well as learners.’