Misconceptions around apprenticeships still abound

Coach Core responds to BDO’s report ‘Apprenticeships still overlooked by young people’

By James Burbidge · 26th September 2022

According to new research from BDO, misconceptions around apprenticeships are still influencing the decisions of young people in their career paths. They surveyed more than 1000 people aged 18-24 across England, with 50% of respondents coming from a lower socio-economic background.

Some of the key findings make disappointing reading for those like Coach Core who strongly believe in the power of apprenticeships to change young lives long-term:

  • Almost two-thirds (62%) of respondents said their school or college encouraged them to go to university rather than apply for an apprenticeship. This figure was highest for young people based in Greater London (70%) and lowest for those based in the North East (55%).
  • More than half (55%) of respondents said their parents or guardians would prefer or have preferred them to go to university over an apprenticeship. The percentage of parents encouraging the university route increased for those from a Black or Asian heritage. Almost three-quarters (71%) of those from a Black heritage and 63% of those from an Asian heritage said their parents or guardians would prefer or have preferred them to go to university.

“It is clear that, despite increasing attempts to elevate the benefits of Apprenticeships and other work-based qualifications, there are still some stubborn misconceptions among young people that simply won’t go away. The schools and colleges system has a critical responsibility to better educate students on the choices they can make, and to demonstrate the short- and long-term value these qualifications can bring.

Our studies have shown this to be the case: young people are progressing both their career and education through apprenticeships, while also getting to stay in their local area and effect change in their own communities. There is a collective responsibility to find even more ways to speak to young people and give them more information on these qualifications rather than continually referencing University as the academic ‘north star’ every young person should aim for.”

Gary Laybourne, Coach Core CEO

The study also revealed some concerning viewpoints around the potential career opportunities of apprentices from young people:

  • More than half of young people believe a university degree makes you more likely to earn a high salary than an apprenticeship
  • More than a third believe you are less likely to reach the most senior positions within a business if you do an apprenticeship

However, whilst many believe that an apprenticeship may not lead to as highly paid job as a university degree, almost two thirds (64%) of those surveyed do believe that an apprenticeship is more likely to result in a permanent job once completed compared to a university degree.

“Whilst a university education is still a highly regarded achievement, it can also bring a significant amount of debt and additional costs. As the cost-of-living crisis continues to take hold, university may not always be the most attractive or accessible route for young people, particularly those from a lower socio-economic background.

With this in mind, it is important to not just increase the number of quality apprenticeship positions but also raise awareness of how this type of training can create meaningful, sustainable careers whilst giving the opportunity to ‘earn while you learn’. This would be a step in the right direction to improving social mobility in the UK.”

Sarah Hillary, partner at BDO


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