Interest in apprenticeships is high but teachers unlikely to recommend them

Interest in starting an apprenticeship rather than going to university is growing amongst young people, but teachers are still unlikely to advise their high-attaining students to take this route, according to a new study from the Sutton Trust.

Around two-thirds (64%) of 11 – 16 year olds said they would be very or fairly interested in starting an apprenticeship available for a job they wanted to do instead of going to university, a rise of nine percentage points from 2014 when 55% of young people said they were interested in this route. A quarter (25%) of those polled this year said they were not very or not at all interested in starting an apprenticeship

The poll highlights a disconnect between young people’s interest in apprenticeships and the advice they’re offered at school. 40% of the young people surveyed said their teachers had never discussed the idea of apprenticeships with them. However the proportion saying they had discussed apprenticeships with their teacher is improving, up from 31% in 2014 to 41% this year.

The survey, conducted by Ipsos MORI, questioned 2,381 11-16 year olds in academies and maintained schools in England and Wales.

Separate polling of 1,246 teachers (of which 583 were secondary teachers) by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) found that just a fifth (21%) would advise a high performing student to opt for an apprenticeship, though this is up from 13% in 2014. Almost two-thirds (64%) of the 583 teachers surveyed said they would rarely or never advise students with good grades to take this route.

Of those unlikely to advise their students to start an apprenticeship, over a third (36%) said it was down to a lack of information about apprenticeships in general and in relation to the options available to their students. Just over a quarter (28%) thought their students had better career prospects at university, while 14% cited negative views about the quality of apprenticeships on offer.

This new polling is published ahead of a major summit the Sutton Trust is hosting on apprenticeships on 2 July. The event - which is part of the Trust’s campaign to make sure there are good-quality apprenticeships available for young people of all backgrounds - will include remarks by Anne Milton MP, Skills Minister and Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Education Select Committee and Gordon Marsden MP, Shadow Skills Minister. The event will also feature an apprentice panel chaired by Gillian Keegan MP.

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