Apprenticeships are a ‘poor relation’ to university, working parents tell CIPD

Careers advice should set out to challenge misconceptions about apprenticeships and promote them as a viable alternative to university education, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has said.

The CIPD’s call was in response to the results of a survey of 400 working parents, conducted as part of its Learning to Work programme. The findings highlighted that almost half of respondents felt apprenticeship were more appropriate for manual or blue-collar roles, and less than one-fifth of respondents said that they felt apprenticeships had the “same status” as a university education.

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The survey, “Employee outlook: focus on apprenticeships”, also found only one parent in 10 ranks apprenticeships as their preferred qualification for their children, compared with nearly half who would choose a university degree.

The survey asked respondents what would make them believe apprenticeships to be a better career option. The two most commonly cited responses were more information on apprenticeships and related career options, and more local employers offering apprenticeships.

Peter Cheese, CIPD chief executive, said: “Apprenticeships give young people the chance to learn and develop skills in the context of the workplace and enable employers to grow their own workforce and recruit from a more diverse pool of talent. But this new research shows that misperceptions about apprenticeships prevail, which is likely to impact the supply of potential candidates for employers that do offer apprenticeships and deter those that don’t from adapting their recruitment methods.

“Our research shows there is still work to be done to improve the parity of esteem between the many excellent employer-led apprenticeship programmes and university education. Our economy needs both routes to thrive.”

Katerina Rüdiger, skills policy adviser at the CIPD, added: “It’s not enough to convince employers that apprenticeships are a good idea, we also need to get the message out to potential candidates and their parents that apprenticeships are a good route into skilled jobs.

“In most cases, parents are the key influencers on young people’s education and career choices, so schools and employers need to reach out to them and make sure that they and their children have enough information about alternatives to university education. At the moment this is not the case, with many young people reporting that they had no or very little advice and guidance about apprenticeships.”

For more information on apprenticeships, see Personnel Today’s employers’ guide.

XpertHR also has a model apprenticeship policy for employers.

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