Should I encourage apprenticeships? Advice to parents on apprenticeships

There is no doubt that there has been a stigma surrounding apprenticeships for a long time, with many claiming that apprenticeships are for “under-achievers,” or an alternative for those who cannot afford to study at university, and there seems to be little advice to parents on apprenticeships. However, apprenticeships have become an equally great opportunity for young people. University should not be considered the only route to a successful career, but many remain sceptical and still consider apprenticeships to be a “back-up plan” or second option. It is crucial that we make young people feel empowered by allowing them to have choices in their education.

Why parents need to be involved

With more young people attending university, it can be argued that the graduate market has become over-saturated and even more competitive than ever. Combined with the fear of university costs rising, it is important that we address the stigma now in an attempt to erase the negativity surrounding the apprenticeship programme.
Parents remain the biggest influencers in a young person’s life, therefore, there has never been a greater need to educate parents and carers about the types of career paths available for young people in this era.

The increase in industries that have apprenticeship courses

Despite some job roles facing decline, there is still inevitable growth in the job market. For example, as a result of the rise of social media platforms and digital innovations, new roles were developed as a huge demand grew for digital marketers and content curators. Particularly, as the Generation-Z demographic are true digital natives. With the growth of these industries and the roles within them, apprentices will be in the fantastic position of having had an extended period of time and experience in a workplace, which will be highly attractive to employers, along with their qualification. Then of course a number of other available apprenticeships cover industries that are here for the long term, such as accounting, plumbing, hair and beauty and many more.

Different levels and standards of apprenticeship

Apprenticeships cater to a range of levels, from a Level 2 Intermediate apprenticeship which is equivalent to 5 GCSE passes at grades A* to C, to a Level 7 Degree apprenticeship equivalent to a Masters. An individual could earn £150K more over their lifetime through a higher level apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships are no longer just vocational

In recent years, apprenticeships have undergone a dramatic change. They are no longer associated with particular sectors, such as construction or plumbing. Apprenticeships range across many industries including project management, digital marketing, aerospace engineering, I.T Specialists, Boat Building, Veterinary Nursing and many more. On average, there are 23,000 apprenticeship opportunities listed every month. For a complete list, check on the Institute for Apprenticeships.

Favourable from an employer’s perspective – experience

Increasingly favoured by employers, an apprentice has a competitive advantage as they have gained valuable hands-on experience alongside industry professionals. Not only would apprentices have acquired work experience in a genuine work environment, they will also have relevant qualifications, arguably making apprentices the most employable and this is perhaps why the percentage of apprentices who are unemployed post qualification is at just 15% whilst the percentage of university graduates unemployed post-graduation is at 20% according to NCFE. As well as this, 92% of apprentices said their career prospects had improved due to their experience and qualification, and according to priory apprenticeships 64% of apprentices kept on by their employer after completing their apprenticeship, allowing them to progress in their career.

Satisfaction with the course – university vs. apprenticeship

Whilst the experience of living away from home on a university course is exciting and a great chance for young people to discover more about themselves, according to an NCFE survey the percentage of university students who are happy with their actual course is a low 36% and when compared with 89% of apprentices it is clear that the level of fulfilment an individual can gain from an apprenticeship is far greater. The reason behind this could be that as part of an organisation, an apprentice feels a sense of worth to the business and part of a team, where they can see their hard work produce actual results rather than just struggling to get the best grades possible.

Financial Strain of University

Of course there is also the vast difference in financial situation between an apprentice and a university degree student. We all know that university students will amass a large debt as a result of their course, and whilst it is true that this is only to be started paying off once their earnings amount to over £25,000, it can still be a great strain on young people who are trying to move out from their parents homes and build their lives, with the average graduate debt post-2012 estimated at £53,000. As well as the tuition costs there is also the living costs for students which will often fall on parents to pay, with 25% of undergraduates using credit cards or relying on their parents financially. Apprentices on the other hand earn money from gaining their qualification and according to the website, an average wage for an apprentice is £170 per week, whilst the average cost of one university lecture is £50 (based on 13 contact hour’s per-week). From an economic perspective, apprenticeships make a great deal of sense as a parent and for a young person in the long-term.

The time of young people instinctively choosing to go to university because they have been taught that this is the natural progression for their education, is coming to an end. With awareness building around the multiple benefits of apprenticeship programmes, it is time to give young people the choice to do what is right for them. The choice between university and apprenticeships is highly subjective, what is right for one individual is not necessarily the correct path for another and this is very important to remember when it comes time for your child to start thinking about their future. Give them options, give them the facts and support them with their decision. If you would like more information about the benefits of apprenticeships please read our article here on the why you should be considering an apprenticeship, look at the Institute for Apprenticeships or this A-Z list of apprenticeships or check out our website or social media pages. If you still want more advice to parents on apprenticeships, you can contact us via our social media pages or by emailing: