School-leavers are increasingly considering apprenticeships as an alternative to university, research shows.
An independent survey of 1,000 young people, published to coincide with this week's A-level results, finds that 41 per cent of 15- to 19-year-olds have debated choosing work-based learning instead of an academic route. Almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of those planning to go to university have discussed apprenticeships with their teachers.
The ability to "earn while you learn" was the reason given for pursuing the apprenticeship route by 45 per cent of respondents; 21 per cent said it was to avoid student debt.
Some 18 per cent think an apprenticeship will increase their chances of finding a job, while 15 per cent believe it will help them to find a higher-paid job than a university course.
The poll was commissioned by British Gas, which currently employs 1,200 apprentices and receives about 50 applications for each engineering apprenticeship.
Susan Hooper, managing director of British Gas residential services, said: "The fact so many students are considering an apprenticeship shows how far vocational training has come. Young people increasingly understand the value of gaining work-based training and getting paid while you learn."
Apprenticeships are a major part of the government's skills and employment policy, and ministers have said they want to change the culture when it comes to work-based learning.