From education to employment

UK parents start to back apprenticeships

Amar Rai, QA apprentice alumni and Systems Engineer at Cisco

#Get2020Vision – New research from QA for #NationalApprenticeshipWeek shows parents are changing their perceptions, becoming strong advocates for #apprenticeships

New research published today (3 Feb) from QA, the UK’s leading tech skills and talent organisation, has shown opinions are changing, with young people across the country more encouraged by their parents than ever to consider apprenticeships as an option for further education.  At the same time, businesses value the apprenticeship route for attracting a more diverse and technically skilled workforce.

The research, launched during National Apprenticeship Week, shows 93% of parents are backing apprenticeships as the way forward for their children. More than half (56%) went on to say they saw them as the best option for gaining real work experience, while a quarter (24%) valued them as a way for the younger generation to ‘earn while they learn’.  

When it came to giving out advice, parents certainly think they know best on the matter – 90% said they felt equipped to give such career advice to their children. 

National Apprenticeship Week 2020 is taking place from the 3 – 7 February. The event is designed to showcase apprenticeships and highlight the benefits of them both to employers and potential apprentices. This year, the driving force behind National Apprenticeship Week, The National Apprenticeship Service is calling on young people, teachers, parents and others to tackle outdated stereotypes in their “Look Beyond” campaign. This new data suggests that parents in particular are doing just that.

Before now, parents have tended to support more traditional education routes – such as university – to apprenticeships. Indeed, of those parents who said they wouldn’t encourage their child to take an apprenticeship, half said they thought they would get a better quality education at university.

Amar Rai, QA apprentice alumni and Systems Engineer at Cisco had a challenge convincing his parents an apprenticeship was the best route for him. At the time his mother, Bhupinder Rai, was disappointed he wouldn’t be pursuing the university route.

“When Amar first told me he wanted to do an apprenticeship, I was initially heartbroken that he didn’t want to go to University. He had always got such good grades at school and I didn’t know much about apprenticeships – I had a vague notion from when I was younger that they were a ‘poorer cousin’ of going to University,” said Bhupinder Rai, now a Police Superintendent, Thames Valley Police.

“That said, I didn’t want to dictate what Amar should do. So I looked into apprenticeships a bit more, and when I realised he would still get a degree at the end and earn while learning, I really came around to the idea. After all, learning on the job with an apprenticeship gives you the added bonus of picking up softer behavioural and professional skills – and they’re the skills that elevate you as a candidate when applying for a job in the future.

It’s great to see other parents getting behind apprenticeships too. I had to do a lot of my research around apprenticeships on the internet, but there are more open days, events like National Apprenticeship Week and organisations like QA giving information on what they entail, and I think that’s winning a lot of parents around.”   

“I’ve never felt pressured by my parents in any decision, but I valued their backing when I decided to do an apprenticeship,” Amar added.

“My Mum is a very logical person and I knew she’d want to do her own research, but when I told her the benefits to me of doing an apprenticeship, she listened and was surprised by the number of pros compared to going to university. I’d always wanted to work in technology – perhaps due to my childhood dream of becoming an astronaut – and I knew an apprenticeship would help me get the very latest tech skills while earning and without needing a student loan. Having Mum’s support means the world, and seeing other parents get behind apprenticeships is great – I’ve been really happy with the path I’ve chosen!”

QA’s research, of 1,000 parents across the UK, follows a rising demand for digital skills apprenticeship training in the UK. Last week, QA opened Europe’s largest tech training campus in central London. The campus will offer world-class training and will further reinforce London’s dominance of excellence in tech.

“It’s great to see so many parents across the UK saying they’d encourage their children to do an apprenticeship,” said Mary Sansom, Director – Brand and Candidate Attraction, QA.

“This hasn’t always been the case. For a long time, parents have considered more traditional routes the best option for getting their children on the career ladder, but it was often due to a preconception of what an apprenticeship entailed. There’s still more to be done on educating secondary students, their parents – and their teachers – on apprenticeships and the value of them as a viable alternative to university, but this research is a very promising step in the right direction.” 

In addition to this, QA is launching a new podcast – #Get2020Vision. The brand-new series gives people on the cusp of making important decisions clarity about their next skills step so they can know what to expect from a learning, skills or career perspective.

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