Parents' attitudes towards apprenticeships improving

14 November 2013
By Edd Gent
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Apprentices at BAE System's Warton site

Apprentices at BAE System's Warton site

Nearly half of British parents would encourage their children to take an apprenticeship but 14 per cent still see them as inferior to a degree.

The YouGov survey of more than 2,000 parents of children aged 11 to 18, commissioned by BAE Systems and the Royal Academy of Engineering and published today at the UK Skills Show in Birmingham, found that 46 per cent would recommend the route to their children.

A positive shift in attitudes towards apprenticeships was revealed as 29 per cent of those surveyed said 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 per cent said that their perception of apprenticeships had changed positively in the last year, while over two-thirds (67 per cent) were pleased that apprenticeships are now presented as an attractive option for young people.

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

Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise, Matthew Hancock MP, said: "These figures are encouraging to see. 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."

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 per cent) as those with a household income of between £35,000 and £39,999 per year (5 per cent) to see apprenticeships as something they would encourage other people's children to do, but unsuitable for their own offspring.

Almost half (46 per cent) of parents surveyed admitted they are worried by the amount of student debt young people can accrue – up to £43,500 – but acknowledged it doesn't put them off persuading their children to go to university.

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.

Sir John Parker, president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: "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.

"Apprenticeships will not only play an important role in helping to meet the increasing demand for engineers and technicians, but I know from first-hand experience that apprenticeships give young people a brilliant start to their engineering careers."

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