Apprenticeships have an image problem among young people

Apprenticeships have an ‘image problem’ among young people with those aged 18-24 the least likely age group to see the merit of training. 

Apprenticeships continue to suffer from an image problem compared to Higher Education: Credit: Fotolia 

A new YouGov survey commissioned by employment specialists Reed in Partnership and qualifications body NCFE suggests only 7 per cent of people aged 18-24 considered apprenticeships as the best way forward, while 68 per cent think high education is the best option. 

The research also highlights how apprenticeships have a particular image problem in London, if they had an 18 year old child. Of those, 40 per cent are less likely to want them to do an apprenticeship compared to the average across England. 

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Commenting on the challenge facing the government to deliver their apprenticeship ambition, Reed in Partnership Managing Director Martin Fallon, ​said: “We support the Government’s aim to increase the number of young people going down the apprenticeship route after school. The benefits of apprenticeships are clear, both for the individuals undertaking them and for the taxpayer.”

The Government’s Apprenticeship Strategy states that “our goal is for young people to see apprenticeships as a high quality and prestigious path to successful careers”

The report also states that in order to change young people’s perceptions of apprenticeships compared to higher education, careers advice in schools must become less narrowly focused on the university route.

Fallon added: “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 very young people the Government wants to consider taking up apprenticeships are the least likely age group to view them favourably.”​

The report makes the following recommendations to the government to improve the perception of apprenticeships:

  • Careers advice should promote alternative options to university, such as apprenticeships. It should begin at an earlier age and young people must be informed of the progression routes within industries if they choose a vocational path.


  • Increased employer engagement with schools is key to improving the perception of apprenticeships among young people. This should be encouraged by national government policy, but with a flexible model that encourages local partnerships.


  • In recognition of their influential role in young people’s lives, parents and family should be a focus of activity to change perceptions.


  • Government should seek to increase the minimum wage for apprenticeships to the same as other workers in order to boost the image of apprenticeships.

Managing Director of NCFE, Emse Winch, said:​ “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.

“Careers advice in schools must include objective information for young people to be able to make the best decision for their own careers.”


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