The changing attitudes to apprenticeships in the UK

The changing attitudes to apprenticeships in the UK

We discuss the changing attitudes towards apprenticeships as part of National Apprenticeship Week 2018

Attitudes to higher education are changing. Factors such as the rising costs of university and the saturated graduate job market are clearly causing the UK’s school leavers to seriously consider other routes into their desired career.

New research from Grant Thornton shows that 77% of young people believe apprenticeships offer good career prospects, and 79% of parents think the same.

Almost half of the young people surveyed think that apprenticeships and university are equally valuable, and 60% believe you do not need to go to university to get a good job.

Caroline Bedford, head of trainee experience at Grant Thornton said: “Attitudes towards apprenticeships as a viable route in to a well-paid, professional career are undergoing an evolution.”

Apprenticeships are becoming more popular

With such a competitive graduate job market, over half of university students do not believe that having a degree guarantees a good job.

The Grant Thornton survey findings shows that the traditional path of school, university, and graduate training are no longer necessarily the best choice for everyone.

At the same time, the prospect of earning while you learn is becoming more desirable not only because of the cost of studying and living as a student, but also because in demand skills are constantly changing, so being able to learn these on the job is the best way to remain employable.

The majority of young people, 68%, say the careers advice they receive is not good. It is usually steered towards university, with little advice for alternative choices like apprenticeships.

This needs to change, especially because apprenticeships today offer so much. You can now complete a degree or even a masters while earning money and gaining work experience.

Employers value their apprentices

A huge 86% of employers currently recruit apprenticeships, and it is positive to see that 50% intend to hire more apprentices in the next five years than they do now.

Employers highly value apprenticeships because of their success in training and developing people to meet the needs of their business.

Apprentices are also excellent at bringing in new, innovative ideas and a fresh perspective to companies.

Moreover, 86% of current employers believe that apprenticeships increase social mobility within their organisation.

The Apprenticeship Levy

The Apprenticeship Levy, which was introduced in April 2017, is a levy on UK employers to fund new apprenticeships.

This, and other apprenticeship developments, have encouraged employers to develop their whole workforce. Apprentices can be of any age, can be new or existing employees, and can provide the opportunity to address skills gaps across the business.

Moreover, 79% of employers say the Levy has encouraged them to recruit more apprentices than they would have otherwise.

Ultimately, the majority of employers agree that the quality of apprenticeships will increase and employers will have more control because of the Levy.

The future of earn while you learn

All considered, 44% of employers do not currently use apprenticeships as a means of upskilling their workforce, and one in five are unaware that they will lose their ability to use the Levy contributions two years after payment.

Employers also need to be more inclusive in their recruitment process when they are looking for entry level talent as currently 34% of recruitment is done in universities, 23% in colleges, and 10% in schools.

Many employers still need to get to grips with the new apprenticeship system as they are currently missing out on using it to develop their employees and increase their business productivity and growth.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE, managing director at City & Guilds Group, said: “ultimately, employer support of the apprenticeship system is crucial and if it is supported effectively will result in the UK having a strong well-developed apprenticeship system that will rival any in the world.”


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