Parents still prefer university to apprenticeships

A new survey finds families from wealthier backgrounds are less likely to support apprenticeships for their children

George Ryan

More parents still wants their children to go to university rather than do an apprenticeship

Parents are more likely to advise their child to go to university than take a degree-level apprenticeship, with middle-class parents more likely than poorer parents to offer this advice, according to the results of a survey published by the Sutton Trust today. 

A total of 1,017 parents of children aged 5- to 16-years-old who attend school were asked how likely they’d be to advise their child to go to university or do a degree-level apprenticeship. Slightly more parents (31 per cent) said they’d advise university over an apprenticeship (27 per cent), while another quarter (23 per cent) said they thought the two options were equal.

For the parents who were more likely to advise their child to take a degree rather than an apprenticeship, 68 per cent felt that university offered better career prospects, while 29 per cent felt they had a lack of knowledge about apprenticeships. One in five parents felt that the quality of some apprenticeships is poor. 


Read more: Many apprentices 'treading water', warns Sutton Trust

More news: Higher-level apprentices earn more than most graduates, research reveals

Background: Minister and businesses defend apprenticeship levy


'Parents just don’t know enough about apprenticeships'

Sir Peter Lampl, founder of the Sutton Trust – which is running a campaign to make sure there are good-quality apprenticeships available for young people of all backgrounds – said the best apprenticeships offer young people outstanding career prospects and financial rewards.

He added: “So it is good to see that many parents see them as a genuine alternative to A levels and degrees. However, it’s clear that many parents just don’t know enough about apprenticeships to feel confident advising their child along that route. 

“Initiatives like National Apprenticeships Week are welcome and can do much to raise awareness of and dispel myths about apprenticeships but we need to do much more. Most importantly we need to increase the prestige of apprenticeships as is the case in Switzerland and Germany. This includes dispelling the view that apprenticeships are not of high quality and giving parents and teachers access to the information they need.”

Sutton Trust polling has previously shown a lack of willingness from teachers to encourage apprenticeships. Teachers are central to shaping young people’s choices after school yet almost two thirds (64 per cent) said they would rarely or never advise a high performing student to opt for an apprenticeship. Many teachers (37 per cent) cited a lack of information as a reason for this.

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George Ryan

George Ryan

George Ryan is a further education reporter for tes

Find me on Twitter @GeorgeMRyan

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