Almost three quarters of students would consider an apprenticeship, yet 80% know little or nothing about them, according to the latest research from QA Apprenticeships.
Despite the widespread lack of knowledge about IT and apprenticeships, QA’s research found that, once informed, 74% of secondary school children ‘would consider’ the option as an alternative to university.
Worryingly, the research also found that girls were four times less likely to consider the idea of a technology apprenticeship than boys.
Back to schools
Ben Pike, Director of QA Apprenticeships suggests that part of the problem lies in our education system:
‘Our research shows conclusively that many school leavers could miss out on the fantastic apprenticeship opportunities being offered by employers unless schools improve their careers advice’
The majority of those surveyed agreed that they did not feel well informed about the progression routes available to them and largely felt that Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) was skewed towards university.
Furthermore, students were largely unaware of the fact that formal qualifications could be achieved through an apprenticeship, a view shared by many school and college tutors who would like to offer more in-depth advice about apprenticeship routes.
Changing the mindset
Following George Osborne’s budget, which announced cuts to university maintenance grants and pledged 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020, QA have committed to expanding their schools’ outreach programme across the UK.
This will ensure the next generation are equipped with full knowledge of the career opportunities within the rapidly growing technology sector, and will help develop the digital and tech skills pipeline in the UK.
“Schools and parents urgently need to think again about the advantages and potential of apprenticeships for all school age students,” said Siobhan Cronin, Head of Engagement at QA Apprenticeships,
“Many traditional ideas about career success are now out-dated. Apprenticeships offer a proven and structured first step into the working world, offering pay, qualifications and education, as well as developing the crucial real world experience many employers seek out in candidates.”
Earn while you learn
Young people commonly perceived apprenticeships as an opportunity to ‘earn while you learn’, avoid student debt and gain hands-on experience in the workplace.
However, many feared that an apprenticeship route might limit you to a certain career or role and did not retain the ‘freedoms’ and social life associated with college or university study.
The highest reason cited for not wishing to do an apprenticeship 52% was that they believed they would earn more in the long term with a degree.
The IT crowd
The majority of students surveyed had positive perceptions of the IT industry, and those most actively pursuing IT apprenticeships had a keen interest in the IT sector outside of school or college.
However, there was some evidence that experience with the working world had led some young people to reconnect with or discover a new interest in IT.
QA have placed 5,000 apprentices in the space of five years. The company plans to reach the milestone of 10,000 in the next year with the launch of their 10KinTech campaign, an initiative that has already galvanised the support of EE, Microsoft and notgoingtouni.com.
Later this year, QA Apprenticeships will launch their apprenticeship degree programme, which will take school children from GCSE right through to Degree.
This study was conducted by an independent researcher and adopted a mixed method approach, incorporating qualitative case studies, telephone interviews and surveys. In total the researcher spoke to 101 individuals for the qualitative element and administered an online survey in 24 schools and colleges which was completed by a total of 222 students.’
Courtesy by Michael Cheary