Apprenticeships should be available through UCAS-style application system, sixth-formers say:

Why arent teenagers applying for apprenticeships

A new study, by education marketing consultancy GK and Partners, claims three-quarters (75%) of sixth-formers would consider an apprenticeship more seriously if degree apprenticeships were offered in their chosen career.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of the 1,051 young people interviewed also say that they would be more likely to apply for an apprenticeship if a UCAS-style format was available. At present, would be apprentices must apply to individual companies.

The findings – from the first study to look specifically at Year 12 and 13 student views of apprenticeships – make grim reading for those championing the alternative post-school career path. Only one in six (16%) 16-18 year-olds is currently thinking of applying for an apprenticeship, compared to 96% considering university.

Teenagers overwhelmingly believe that their parents are unlikely to want them to do an apprenticeship. Over half (56%) say their parents would prefer it if they went to university. Only one in five (20%) think teachers would promote an apprenticeship over going to university. The research supports the findings of a recent [July] Sutton Trust poll of teachers that found relatively negative attitudes to apprenticeships among educators.

The low numbers of youngsters who say they are interested in apprenticeships will worry the Government, especially given that most are aware of the advantages of high-level programmes. Over three-fifths (61%) say that they understand that a degree apprenticeship means course fees will be paid for them, that they will earn a salary straight away and they will get a degree without any student debt.

The research also suggests that teenagers associate apprenticeships with lost social opportunities. Over three-fifths of sixth-formers (62%) worry that they will lose out on the prospect of meeting new people at university. And a third (33%) believe that by doing an apprenticeship they will miss out on the opportunity to meet a future girl/boyfriend that attending university will provide.

Those considering a career in finance are particularly worried, with two-fifths of them (40%) saying it is a concern. Over half of the respondents (53%) also think an apprenticeship will mean losing out on the opportunity to live away from home.

Pay perception is also a problem. Over half (51%) think apprenticeship starting salaries are too low. The research revealed the average starting apprentice salary needed to get a student to turn their back on a place at university is £20,531 per annum.

One glimmer of hope is that less than a quarter (23%) of young people now think of apprenticeships as being for people who don’t get the grades to go to university. However almost half (45%) still worry that they are too low status and not valued by employers.

Of the sixth-formers interviewed for a new report [published today], called ‘Not for them: Why aren’t teenagers applying for apprenticeships?’, most (93%) have an idea of the careers they are interested in pursuing.

However, almost three-fifths (59%) believe an apprenticeship isn’t suitable for the career they have in mind. The most popular job options are engineering, science and IT (28%), followed by health and pharmaceuticals (24%), education (21%), finance & accountancy (20%) and media & marketing (18%). Only 7% say they are yet to consider a career.

Lack of suitable information about apprenticeships also continues to be an issue. Over three-fifths (62%) of the students surveyed say that they still don’t have sufficient information about the opportunities.

When the Government unveiled its plans in 2015 to significantly increase the number of apprenticeships they were met with widespread support. Employers, policymakers and politicians of all persuasions agreed that the lack of high quality apprenticeships was denying too many youngsters a meaningful career path and severely damaging economic productivity.

Since then, apprenticeship numbers have fallen by 59% in the year to August 2017 and by a further 27% in the six months afterwards, prompting calls to overhaul the entire programme.Nevertheless, support for the concept remains strong.

The Chartered Institute of Management reported in April that 63% of managers believe that the Apprenticeship Levy is needed to increase employer investment in skills, with almost half (48%) expecting to see a rise in new starts over the next 12 months.

We commissioned the study because while there have been many polls into employer views towards apprentices there has been very little exploration of school-leaver attitudes.

Unless employers and policymakers start to understand what is stopping sixth-formers considering apprenticeships as a valid career path they will not attract the candidates that businesses need.

There will always be a large proportion of youngsters who want to go to university for the experience and who prefer to only start thinking of career choices once there.

But more sixth-formers could clearly be persuaded to consider the apprentice opportunity, especially degree-level apprentices, if further information was readily available, if it was easier to apply and if annual starting salaries were nearer £20,000 than £10,000.

The findings also suggest that young people would probably apply in greater numbers if parental and teacher opposition to apprenticeships was reduced and if they could be persuaded of their benefits.

Employers need to start focusing their apprenticeship message on schools, engaging with parents and making the application system more straight-forward.

Gerard Kelly, Partner, GKP Ltd

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel shared a video in channel. 1 hour 51 minutes ago

What does 'levelling up' really mean? How to...

Since the 2019 general election, 'levelling up' has been the government’s go-to slogan. The Queen’s Speech set out an ambition to "level up...

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel shared a video in channel. 2 hours 7 minutes ago

Edufuturists #143 - Co-founding Elon Musk's...

Joshua Dahn is the Executive Director and founder of Astra Nova School in Los Angeles, California. He is a co-founder of Synthesis, a company that...

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page