Half of A-level students see apprenticeships as second-rate

August, 2022

Early careers experts Prospects are urging students getting unexpected A-level results to seek professional careers advice, as the Prospects Early Careers Survey 2022 highlights the impact apprenticeship stigma is having on career choices

The Prospects survey of more than 5,000 young people found that 12% of school and college students would like to do an apprenticeship, while 60% are hoping to go to university to pursue an undergraduate degree.

Of those students opting to go to university, nearly half view apprenticeships as second-rate to university, with 39% saying that a degree has a better reputation than an apprenticeship and a tenth said their parents are against the apprentice route. A further two-fifths said that an apprenticeship isn't an option for their chosen career path.

Students with parents who went to university are more likely to be against the apprenticeship option.

Nearly half (43%) of this group said that a degree has a better reputation and 13% said they wouldn't take the apprenticeship route because of their parents.

In comparison, among students with parents who didn't go to university, a third said a degree has a better reputation and 8% said their parents are against apprenticeships.

The influence family members have on young people when they're making important decisions about their careers is significant. The survey found that school students were particularly reliant on their families for careers advice (65%), compared to teachers (57%) and careers professionals (35%).

Each month, around 7,000 school and college students register for careers information and planning tools via Prospects.ac.uk. This year, views on apprenticeship content have dropped by 7% compared to last year, while views on 'getting into university' advice have increased by 38%.

Chris Rea, careers expert at Prospects for Jisc, says, 'If A-Level results are better or worse than expected, students will be weighing up their options. While university is the right choice for some, it doesn't work for everyone. Careers that were once only accessible through higher education are now viable routes for those who want to do an apprenticeship.

'However, despite the equality of esteem apprenticeships have acquired in the eyes of government and educators, some stigma remains in the public mind. Dated views place apprenticeships as second-rate to university and an option more suitable for low-attaining students, but modern apprenticeships are a very different career opportunity to when many parents were at school. In particular, degree apprenticeships offer an alternative way of accessing higher education while also gaining valuable work experience.

'Students making important decisions about their careers must seek professional advice to ensure their next steps are the right ones. In addition to using Prospects, students should look at the National Careers Service and employer websites, and speak to teachers and advisers at their school or college.'

Career advice as well as the Job Match online career planning tool can be found at Prospects.ac.uk.

Media enquiries

Clare Tregaskis, Prospects and Jisc Student Services, clare.tregaskis@jisc.ac.uk, 07792 429227

About the Early Careers Survey 2022

Students and graduates were surveyed during January and February 2022 to find out about their career plans and their experiences over the previous 12 months. The data is based on 5,255 responses.

About Prospects

Prospects has worked at the heart of higher education for nearly 50 years. Part of Jisc Student Services, the directorate collaborates with government, universities and employers to improve student and graduate career outcomes through information, guidance and opportunities. It includes Prospects.ac.uk, which is visited by 2.1 million students and graduates each month, Prospects Luminate and the UK's official postgraduate course database. Jisc Student Services also manages Prospects Hedd degree verification and fraud services.

About Jisc 

Jisc's vision is for the UK to be a world leader in technology for education and research. It owns and operates the super-fast national research and education network, Janet, with built-in cyber security protection.  Jisc also provides technology solutions for members (colleges, universities and research centres) and customers (public sector bodies), helps members save time and money by negotiating sector-wide deals and provides advice and practical assistance on digital technology. Jisc is funded by the UK higher and further education and research funding bodies and member institutions. 

For more information, contact kate.edser@jisc.ac.uk, or 07918 562869. Alternatively,  use media@jisc.ac.uk or 07443 983571.

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