Students favour university as apprenticeship stigma lingers

Aug 19, 2022 | Apprentices & school leaver

Apprenticeship stigma still prevents many students enrolling, explains Chris Rea from Prospects

Despite the equality of esteem apprenticeships have acquired in the eyes of government and educators, our latest data shows that some stigma remains in the public mind.

The Prospects Early Careers Report 2022 shows the career plans and aspirations of more than 5,000 young people. We found that 60% of school and college students are hoping to go to university to undertake an undergraduate degree while just 12% of this group would like to do an apprenticeship.


Apprenticeship stigma lingers

When we asked those students opting to go to university why they had not chosen to do an apprenticeship we found some outdated perspectives.

Thirty nine per cent said that a degree has a better reputation than an apprenticeship and one in ten said their parents are against the apprentice route. A further two-fifths said that an apprenticeship is not an option for their chosen career path.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, students with parents who went to university are more likely to be against the apprenticeship option.

Nearly half (43%) of this group said that a degree has a better reputation and 13% said they wouldn’t take the apprenticeship route because of their parents.

In comparison, among students with parents who didn’t go to university a third said that a degree has a better reputation and 8% said their parents are against apprenticeships.

We are also seeing a downward trend in students viewing apprenticeship information. Each month around 7,000 school and college students register for careers information and planning tools on This year, views on apprenticeship content have dropped by 7% compared to last year, while views on ‘getting into university’ advice have increased by 38%.

It seems that outdated views about apprenticeships are stifling potential growth.


Professional careers advice

The influence family members have on young people when they are making important decisions about their careers is significant. The survey found that school students were particularly reliant on their families for careers advice (65%), compared to teachers (57%) and careers professionals (35%).

We’re urging students making important decisions about their careers to seek professional advice to ensure their next steps are the right ones.

There’s also a real need for educators and employers to work together to better communicate that modern apprenticeships are a very different career opportunity to when many parents were at school. In particular, the fact that degree apprenticeships offer an alternative way of accessing higher education while also gaining valuable work experience.

Role models play a big part in reducing apprenticeship stigma. Any attraction campaign should consider how stories of successful apprentices climbing the career ladder could be leveraged.

Of course university is the right choice for many, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Careers that were once only accessible through higher education are now viable routes for those who want to do an apprenticeship. This is something we should be extremely proud of.

Read more insight and advice on apprenticeships





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