Apprenticeships’ image problem persists

Despite the best efforts of employers and the government, apprenticeships still have an image problem, particularly among parents. New research from YouGov on behalf of Reed in Partnership and qualifications body NCFE has shown that only one in five parents of 18 years old would see an apprenticeship as the best option – with only 12% of London parents rating it as the best idea.

Outside the parent age group, the survey also found that the further down the age spectrum, the less positively apprenticeships were viewed. While 27% of those aged 55 and over said that an apprenticeship was the best option for a flourishing future, only seven per cent of those aged 18-24 agreed.


‘Image problem compared to higher education’

“We support the government’s aim to increase the number of young people going down the apprenticeship route after school,” said Reed in Partnership MD Martin Fallon. “The benefits of apprenticeships are clear, both for the individuals undertaking them and for the taxpayer.

“However, our new research highlights the scale of the challenge the government faces to realise this ambition. Apprenticeships continue to suffer from an image problem compared to higher education.” The findings of the survey reinforce earlier research that found that perceptions of apprenticeships remain stubbornly skeptical of their value compared to the academic route.

Managing director of NCFE, Esme Winch, commented that the issue of branding remains key. “This research confirms what many in the education and skills sector have long suspected; that the apprenticeship ‘brand’ is weak after decades of changes to the system and promotion of a university route.”

Proportion of adults by region who view an apprenticeship as the best option for an 18-year-old

North West – 25%

East Midlands – 24%

West Midlands – 23%

North East – 23%

South West – 22%

Yorkshire and the Humber – 21%

East of England – 20%

Wales – 20%

South East – 19%

Scotland – 19%

London – 12%