Teachers not confident helping students apply for apprenticeships

New research has revealed approximately one in four (26 per cent) teachers feel confident helping students pursue an apprenticeship application – despite almost 70 per cent agreeing they are excellent options for the young people they teach.
This lack of confidence also means only 26 per cent of teachers of sixth form students have helped students apply for an apprenticeship in the last two years, compared to more than three quarters of teachers (79 per cent) who have advised students on applying for university, according to the study of more than 5,000 teachers undertaken by leading communications agency PLMR and Teacher Tapp, the teacher survey app.
The findings indicate that despite widespread positive perceptions of apprenticeships, more work is needed to help teachers promote them to students. This will make sure students can be fully informed about the opportunities available to them so they can make decisions more likely to lead to long-term success.
As a result, the report recommends that a new centralised application system be introduced for all apprenticeships, combining both university and apprenticeship applications within UCAS’ portal. This would streamline the process and make information fully accessible to young people and teachers so that they can see in the same place all the apprenticeships that are available. At the moment, no employers have to list their apprenticeships anywhere and those that are listed might be on multiple different sites.
UCAS said the new system would be a “game-changer”, allowing people to compare side-by-side for the first time higher education, technical education, and apprenticeships to make the right choice for them.
The recommendation is also supported by education organisations representing the state and independent sectors – the Confederation of School Trusts, the sector body for school trusts in England accounting for 2.5 million children and young people, and the Independent Schools Council, which brings together seven associations representing more than 1,300 independent schools.
Teachers reported a highly favourable view of apprenticeships, with 70 per cent stating apprenticeships secure excellent future opportunities for students.

86 per cent of teachers believed too few students pursue an apprenticeship. In contrast, 38 per cent of teachers agreed university provides excellent future opportunities for students, with 39 per cent thinking too many young people currently go to university.

Despite 90 per cent of Year 12 and 13 teachers knowing how to advise students on suitable university options, only 36 per cent say the same for apprenticeships.

The research also revealed disparities in teachers’ confidence when considering socio-economic factors. Teachers working in schools with a high percentage of students eligible for free school meals (FSM) were found to be more confident than peers in low-FSM schools when supporting students with apprenticeship applications (29 per cent vs 24 per cent) – highlighting a possible correlation between post-18 pathways and target regions for the Government’s levelling-up agenda. In contrast, teachers across both high- and low-FSM schools were almost equally confident in helping students apply for university (85 per cent and 86 per cent respectively).
The findings suggest more needs to be done to better promote career pathways to help students identify the full range of options available to them so they can make a more informed decision.

The report also makes three recommendations - to make it a requirement that all apprenticeships are listed on ucas.com, with employers given the option to opt out – this would mean a comprehensive, one-stop shop for information and applications for universities, colleges, and apprenticeships is available, helping increase the confidence and awareness of apprenticeships among teachers and students.

It also recommends increasing awareness of different post-18 opportunities for students through careers advisers – this will positively promote the successful careers available after graduating from university and better signpost and support young people who prefer apprenticeships.

It also recommends creating and making accessible easily-digestible resources to boost confidence in understanding apprenticeships.



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