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Where next? Changing attitudes towards apprenticeships

Changing attitudes towards apprenticeships
16th August 2016

The new Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills recently said that he wanted apprenticeships to be seen ‘as prestigious as going to Oxbridge’. Interserve’s research into the attitudes of young people, parents and employers towards apprenticeships shows that we are a long way from making this a reality. As students pick up their exam results in the next two weeks and think about what to do next, it is unlikely many will have looked into what an apprenticeship has to offer.

Conversely, the announcement that a levy will be placed on large companies has sharpened the focus of many businesses on apprenticeships. The levy is part of the government’s target to increase the number of people who start an apprenticeship to three million by 2020 and many businesses – large and small – are looking long and hard at how they can create more quality apprenticeship pathways to meet their skills needs. However, apprenticeships remain undervalued and, to a large degree, misunderstood. Even if the opportunities available through an apprenticeship are set to grow and improve, attitudes amongst those likely to take them up still lag behind.

One of the key questions that needs to be answered is how can we really start to change the debate around apprenticeships and show that they can be a genuine way to achieve a sustainable career, providing some of the best opportunities to develop and progress?

Changing perceptions

As young people get their GCSE and A-Level results, Interserve’s 2016 report into attitudes around apprenticeships suggests that the majority will not be thinking about taking one up when they leave formal education. The most compelling finding from the report is that only 7 per cent of young people thinking about their next step after finishing school were considering doing an apprenticeship – this falls to just 2 per cent in London.

To change these ingrained perceptions, the report recommends a campaign that builds on the work being done by GetInGoFar, developing some specific areas of focus in regions where apprenticeships are regarded particularly poorly and around new pathways that can really shift the dial in terms of where and how far an apprenticeship can take you.

For example, the research findings showed that when young people and parents know a bit more about the opportunities provided by Higher and Degree apprenticeships, they were more open to considering them as the best option for their own careers or their children. If real effort was made to promote the fact that new apprenticeship pathways can take you to the top without incurring the debt of a university degree, then it is likely that attitudes will start to shift. Improving the way careers advice is delivered in schools is clearly one important factor, and encouraging more businesses and providers to engage with schools is a promising start. Similarly, the findings of the research point to a real challenge in London – where views about apprenticeships are particularly negative. As such, ensuring that the scope of apprenticeship pathways are understood and showing how they apply to dynamic and cutting edge sectors, as well as the more traditional, is key.

Understanding the options

For young people thinking about their next step, apprenticeships do have a lot to offer. Recent government data shows apprenticeships available in 1,500 job roles, covering more than 170 industries. There are currently 75 higher and degree apprenticeships available, with more in development, including foundation degrees, Higher National Diplomas and full honours degrees.

This step change is reflected in some of our own plans for the future. We are set to more than double current intake levels into apprenticeships and will be developing new higher and degree apprenticeship pathways to run in parallel with our graduate recruitment programmes - creating professional and managerial apprenticeship centres of excellence across our business. We will also be building on the 4,000 plus work experience placements for school students we’ve created in the last two years, to introduce more young people to the opportunities open to them.

Name Level Equivalent educational level
Intermediate 2 5 GCSE passes (grade A* - C)
Advanced 3 2 A Level passes
Higher 4, 5, 6 and 7 Foundation degree and above
Degree 6 and 7 Bachelor’s or master’s degree

What are we doing?

We are working hard to challenge some of the more negative perceptions and to make sure an apprenticeship with Interserve is a route into every corner of our diverse business. We already take part in a range of activities, including creating traineeships and work placement opportunities, supporting initiatives for disadvantaged groups and engaging in providing careers information and support to help pupils and their parents learn about how apprenticeships are changing. Through Interserve Learning & Employment, a provider of skills, education and employment services, we also help educate young people about apprenticeships, with teams visiting schools around the country.

Benefits of Interserve’s apprenticeships

  • Competitive salary package
  • Interview for position within organisation upon completion
  • Progression/career pathway opportunities
  • Promotion opportunities
  • Full support and mentor system throughout early career
  • Opportunity to work on new and exciting contracts and projects
  • Secondment opportunities internal/ external
  • Flexible working system
  • You will be trained in the skills that employers want
  • Paid holiday
  • Graduation events

Raising the profile

Communication from business and government can only do so much. The proof will be in ensuring that when someone gets on to an apprenticeship they know that it can take them as far as they want to go. As businesses start to reshape how they bring in and develop the best talent, young people getting their exam results should take a look at where an apprenticeship can take them.

Find out more…

Apprenticeship levy – The apprenticeship levy, introduced by the UK government, comes into force in April 2017. Over the next year, Interserve will bring you the latest information on the issue via a series of blog posts. Read our first post, Introducing the apprenticeship levy, here.

Are apprenticeships the path to success? - This report takes a detailed look at attitudes towards apprenticeships. It provides a timely snapshot of attitudes and perceptions amongst young people, parents and employers.

Early careers – Our wide range of apprenticeships reflects the diversity of our business. Interserve apprentices could find themselves working on a multi-million pound construction or facilities management project, making a real difference from day one.

Interserve Learning & Employment – Our aim is to redefine the future of people and places by delivering education and work-based learning that will support economic growth.

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