Apprenticeships are a key part of the government’s strategy to tackle youth unemployment, but new evidence suggests careers advisers may be failing to promote them to young people.
Research by the National Union of Students found that more than 20 per cent of apprentices said they had never received information from a careers service, while more than 50 per cent of university students said they had not been told about the apprenticeship opportunities available.
For those who did look into the option the apprenticeship minimum wage, which at £2.65 per hour is less than half the national minimum wage of £6.91 per hour, was a major deterrent.
Despite this, 20 per cent of higher education students said they would consider working as an apprentice in the future, believing it would be a good way of developing work experience.
It follows a study earlier this summer that revealed a lack of understanding and misconceptions about apprenticeships among parents.
NUS president Toni Pearce said: “Education has changed, and the old route that ends with a three year full time undergraduate degree no longer needs to be norm.
“The lack of proper careers advice about the available study options and pathways to work is failing young people. Students need the information and tools to thrive, whatever their learning journey.
“We need a no holds barred review of information, advice and guidance to ensure it is fit for purpose, fit for the twenty first century and fit the realities of students’ lives.”
The findings follow an ICM poll earlier this month that revealed more than half of young people in England (54 per cent) would choose to do an apprenticeship if one were available.
Skills minister Matthew Hancock has claimed apprenticeships are “fast becoming the norm” for school leavers who want to earn while they learn, while the National Apprenticeship Service has predicted the number of applications could hit a record high this summer.
The apprenticeship minimum wage is set to rise by 3p to £2.68 an-hour from October, and the government has made changes to the law so employers that underpay can be “named and shamed.”
However, recent government figures showed the number of overall apprenticeship starts in the first nine months of 2012/13 was down by six per cent on the previous year, and down 18 per cent among 16-18-year-olds.