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“What’s an apprenticeship, mum?” Most parents don’t know the answer

Apprenticeships may be a central plank of the government’s jobs policy, but new research reveals that many parents don’t understand them or what they can offer their children.

The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) polled more than 1,000 members of parenting website Netmums and found a general lack of understanding and even misconceptions about apprenticeships.

Nearly two-thirds of parents said that they couldn’t explain apprenticeships to their child, while 80 per cent did not know a higher apprenticeship is the same level of qualification as a degree, and nearly three-quarters misjudged how much lifetime earnings are boosted by doing a higher apprenticeship.

Most worryingly, old-fashioned misconceptions persisted; nearly half of parents believed that they are geared more towards boys than girls, almost a third believed they are for those less academically-able, and the majority believed they are only available in manual jobs.

Despite the government’s aims for its apprenticeships programme, a third of parents did not believe that apprenticeships would become as normal for young people as going to university.

AAT chief executive Jane Scott-Paul told TES: “Apprenticeships have had a bit of a poor deal over the past 20 years, mainly due to the decline of industry and the push to get as many young people into university as possible.

“If we are to target the tragic situation of young people coming out of school and not being able to find employment, then apprenticeships have to be much more visible and we need to give practical, down to earth information about what they are.”

The AAT is calling for the re-education of parents so apprenticeships are considered as viable first choice options alongside university and academic qualifications.

Ms Scott-Paul said that a national conversation about the value of apprenticeships could be achieved through social media.

“We have young people who are concerned about their futures and the burden of debt and are looking for other career options. We need to put information about apprenticeships in front of them and their parents so they realise those other options are available.”

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