More than half of young adults would now consider undertaking an apprenticeship, finds housebuilder Redrow

Written by Jon Kennard on 12 April 2019 in Press Zone
Press Zone

Housebuilder Redrow this week launched the second part of its third annual report on perceptions of apprenticeships and careers in construction.

  • Parents’ views are changing and more are discussing the prospect of undertaking a career in construction with their children
  • But almost half (42%) of young adults are not receiving information about careers in construction at school – despite the UK’s gaping skills gap
  • Gender biases still exist with exactly half (50%) of female respondents stating that a career in construction has never been discussed with them
  • Young adults and parents overwhelmingly best associate apprenticeships with ‘earning money whilst studying and not occurring student debt’

Encouragingly, this year’s report found that more than half of young adults (54%) would now consider taking on an apprenticeship, however, the findings also throw into stark relief the lack of adequate advice on construction and apprenticeship careers in schools. 

Now in its third year, Redrow’s annual report canvassed 2,000 parents and 16-21-year-olds and 143 of the housebuilder’s own apprentices and benchmarked the findings against last year’s responses to ascertain whether there have been any changes in attitudes towards apprenticeships.

Misconceptions about the variety of careers in construction available continue to be a significant barrier for uptake. Over half of young adults (56%) still believe that a career in construction involves mainly manual labour – a view shared by 45% of all parents.

This compares to 52% of young adults and 30% of parents who held this belief last year. This failure to understand the breadth and depth of careers in construction available is more prominent than over the last two years.

Despite misconceptions, the financial implications of undertaking an apprenticeship are increasingly perceived as positive as Britons recognise the earning power of apprenticeships. Both young adults (56%) and parents (73%) overwhelmingly best associate apprenticeships with ‘earning money whilst studying and not incurring student debt’.

For young adults, this represents a 15 percentage point increase on the year before. And Redrow’s own apprentices agree, naming ‘the ability to earn a salary while studying and training’ as the biggest benefit of their apprenticeship.

Poor advice in schools

Our 2019 survey reveals young adults are continuing to receive poor quality advice at school. Just 21% of young adults surveyed felt that they received high-quality careers advice, information and guidance on a wide range of careers from their school. This has fallen from 27% last year.

Almost half (42%) of young adults said that a career in construction had never been discussed with them verbally by a teacher or a careers adviser or had been readily available in careers literature. This compared to 38% in 2018. Redrow’s own apprentices agree, with almost three quarters (74%) stating that schools do not promote apprenticeships in the same way as they do with other educational routes.

Breaking this down by gender, the gap in careers advice is even starker for females, with exactly half (50%) stating that a career in construction had never been discussed with them. Gender gaps are also present this year in the number of young adults who had received information on apprenticeships – 68% of young men vs. 57% of young women.

But whilst stigmas still persist in schools, parents’ views are changing. This year Redrow found that a majority (52%) of parents have discussed the prospect of undertaking a career in construction with their children. This compares to just 39% last year, and 28% the year before.

Gen Z: the next wave of entrepreneurs

This year Redrow also sought to analyse the links between apprenticeships and entrepreneurialism. Apprentices are usually fast-learners and hard workers in Redrow’s experience, so it is no surprise that the majority of Redrow’s own apprentices (56%) surveyed aspire to own their own business in the future.

This is not just limited to current apprentices; 56% of young adults Redrow surveyed have this aspiration too.

Although young people increasingly want to work for themselves, the majority do not believe ‘traditional’ education routes best prepare them to achieve this. 63% argue that schools do not equip the next generation with the skills needed to own their own business. Instead, both young people and parents believe that these skills are best learnt on the job.

Karen Jones, HR Director at Redrow, commented: “With Brexit sharpening concerns that the construction skills shortage will deepen, it is more important than ever that we reach out to all young people, and ensure they are educated in the different career paths that construction can offer.

“While it is fantastic to see more parents discussing apprenticeships and careers in construction with their children, the story begins in schools, where educators are providing advice and information to our young people.

"Despite the Baker Clause coming into effect and putting pressure on schools to give training providers and colleges access to secondary school pupils, it is not clear that the impact of this is trickling through and having a positive impact on the education and skills these routes can provide.

“A greater level of Government intervention is needed here. As well as providing more financial support to apprentices themselves, the Government must take a stricter stance on schools failing to make sure young people are aware of all the career options available to them.

"Our industry still has more of a job to do in terms of communicating the benefits of apprenticeships, where these are financial in terms of avoiding university debt, or employability. Hopefully, our findings can act as a real catalyst for change.”

Recommendations for driving increasingly positive perceptions of apprenticeships and careers in construction:

  1. Improve careers advice in schools and increase Government intervention in schools to make sure young people are aware of all options
  2. Apprentices to be offered additional bursaries for travel costs, and for necessary equipment and materials
  3. Cost of taking on an apprentice scheme vs. going to a University must be made clear
  4. Building up female role models at a senior level
  5. Reforming apprenticeships to focus on applied Maths and English skills
  6. Creating a ‘UCAS style’ programme which centrally lists all live apprenticeship opportunities

This year Redrow took on a record 208 apprentices, and the highest number of female apprentices to date. This month Redrow has opened up a further 80 new apprentice vacancies for both office and trade roles. To find out more please visit: www.redrowcareers.co.uk

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