Parents of young people in the UK don’t know what an apprenticeship is, signaling a wider awareness problem which is impacting career choices and creating a skills gaps in key industries. The research follows news of the T-levels programme and the Apprentice Levy - which aim to present young people with more choices in educational pathways. However, at the same time reports from the UK government show a decline in new apprentices for March 2018, which are down 28% compared to the same period a year ago.
With 36% of parents of children aged 11 to 16 unsure what an apprenticeship is, it’s no surprise that the majority (68%) of young people don’t know either, despite being at the age that they will start to make decisions about the direction of their career. However, mum and dad are in the driving seat when it comes to career choices. When asked who or what influences these decisions, mum and dad together were number one (66%), followed by teachers and school (41%), the lessons children enjoy (31%) and then friends (14%).
This research was independently commissioned by ABM UK having surveyed 2000 British parents of children aged 11 to 16 and 2000 children aged 11 to 16. ABM UK director, Adam Baker, said: “We were shocked to find a genuine lack of knowledge on apprenticeships amongst parents, and that many still consider them to be a last resort for children who fail their exams. It shows a need for a more unified approach and a better way of communicating, especially with parents, whose influence alongside teachers is critical. When a young person is set to choose a university, there’s a huge amount of support from schools, parents and educational bodies such as UCAS. We need similar representation for apprenticeships and technical careers to ensure young people in the UK don’t miss out on enriching, lucrative and credible career options. It’s vital we give parents and schools more information and empower them to show children all the options open to them.”
Further findings revealed that for those parents who knew what an apprenticeship was, just 14% considered it to be a good option, with three times as many parents (42%) saying that they wanted their children to attend university, despite crippling tuition fees and long-term debt prospects.
The top reasons given for not encouraging their child to undertake an apprenticeship were that they were thought to be poorly paid (43%), because they see it as a last resort for those who fail their exams (37%), and that apprenticeships don’t lead to successful careers (17%).
ABM UK commissioned the research as part of its ongoing commitment to attract new talent to the engineering and facilities management industry. In January this year it welcomed 36 West London schoolchildren into the pilot of its first-ever Junior Engineering Engagement Programme (J.E.E.P). J.E.E.P. has been a success and plans are in place to extend it to further schools from September 2018. The move recognised that, despite government initiatives like the Apprenticeship Levy and the introduction of T-levels, businesses have a responsibility to safeguard the future, too.