Ucas: Half of school leavers considering apprenticeship

Over half of 17- to 19-year-olds who are receiving their grades next Tuesday, but are not intending to start a traditional degree course in the autumn, have considered an apprenticeship, says Ucas

Julia Belgutay

A significant proportion of students getting their results next week is considering an apprenticeship

One in five students who do not intend starting a traditional degree course this autumn have an apprenticeship as their main plan, university and college admissions service Ucas has found.

According to a new report, more than three quarters (78 per cent) of students due to get their results next week, but who do not plan to immediately start a three-year full-time undergraduate degree, are interested in starting an apprenticeship.

Over half of 17- to 19-year-olds who are receiving their grades next Tuesday, but are not intending to start a traditional degree course in the autumn, have considered an apprenticeship, and a further 22 per cent said that was their main choice.

Last year, 37 per cent of UK 18-year-olds progressed from secondary education on to university or college through Ucas. Today’s research sets out what the remaining 63 per cent of school leavers are considering.

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According to Ucas, the main features of apprenticeships are attractive to young people, including the opportunity to “earn money” (50 per cent), to continue learning but in “a different way” (43 per cent), and to do something “new and different” (42 per cent).

Of all survey respondents, only 11 per cent said they had received enough careers information, advice, and guidance and did not require any more. Almost one in 10 said they did not receive any at all.

These latest findings come after Ucas revealed in May that over half of students looking to apply to higher education in 2022 were interested in apprenticeships, but many find it hard to get the information they need about them.

Ucas' apprenticeship platform CareerFinder, which helps students find degree and higher apprenticeships, saw a record 1.35 million searches in the last 12 months, up 37 per cent in 2020. These searches have resulted in 225,000 applications, an increase from 181,000 last year (+24%).

Plans and motivations

Ucas chief executive Clare Marchant said: “With results day coming up, it is crucial for us to understand the plans and motivations of all students so that we can provide relevant, timely and personalised support covering all their potential pathways. 

“Our latest insight sheds new light on the importance of making sure all students have access to excellent careers information, advice and guidance, especially as there is such strong demand for apprenticeships. It’s clear that many students don’t plan to start a three-year degree straight from school, and are beginning to welcome the opportunities of learning in a different way and developing new skills while earning through an apprenticeship.

“There is an opportunity through the government’s Skills and Post-16 Education Bill to ensure young people have the ability to make truly informed decisions about their futures. We are already enriching our services so that students can discover more about their futures, whether their chosen path leads them to an apprenticeship, a higher technical qualification, a part-time, flexible course, full-time undergraduate study or employment.”

Association of Employment and Learning Providers research director Paul Warner said: “With only 18 per cent of university graduates securing jobs last year, the impact of the pandemic is undoubtedly a factor in young people questioning the perceived wisdom behind some of the traditional choices available. The good news to go with the increased appetite for apprenticeships identified in the Ucas survey is that apprenticeship vacancies are running at record levels as the economy recovers.

“The issue remains however that too many students in schools and colleges have to find out for themselves about apprenticeships, often online or through friends and family, which is why AELP is backing Lord Baker’s amendment to the skills bill to ensure compliance with the Baker Clause. Ministers promised a summer consultation on the 3-point plan in the Skills for Jobs White Paper to enforce the clause and we really need to see that soon.”

John Yarham, deputy chief executive at the Careers & Enterprise Company, said: “More young people are considering apprenticeship opportunities, and this is in no small part due to the phenomenal job that Careers Leaders in schools and colleges are doing week in, week out, supported by a growing number of employers. Young people knowing about apprenticeships means more young people finding their best next step out of education and into the world of work. This means more students going into fulfilling careers and taking the path that’s right for them. Making sure every school and college works with apprenticeship providers and showcases the high quality, high impact opportunities available couldn’t be more important.”

Apprenticeships and skills minister Gillian Keegan said: “It’s great to see young people thinking about their next steps are seeing the life-changing opportunities an apprenticeship can bring. Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to launch a career in a huge range of exciting industries, and with record numbers of vacancies being advertised on our Find An Apprenticeship service there are plenty of options for everyone.

To help to create more apprenticeships opportunities, we’re giving businesses a cash boost of £3,000 for each new apprentice they hire until September. We’re also working to remove any barriers to apprenticeship starts, including taking action with employers to make apprenticeships work better in sectors with more flexible and short-term models of employment.”


Jennifer Coupland, chief executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, said: “It is fantastic to see so much interest in and enthusiasm for degree apprenticeships. They are proving to be extremely popular with apprentices and families and are meeting a clear need identified by employers for higher level skills.

“There are now over 140 apprenticeships available at degree level. Apprentices are paid a wage and generate invaluable work experience as they train to be everything from a midwife, nurse, or physiotherapist, to serious and complex crime investigator, economist, construction quantity surveyor, archaeologist, ecologist, social worker, architect, laboratory scientist, and aerospace engineer.”


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Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay is head of FE at Tes

Find me on Twitter @JBelgutay

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