Over a third – 36% – of parents don’t know what an apprenticeship is, despite them being the biggest influence on their children’s career decisions, according to new research.
When asked who or what influences these decisions, parents were the number one factor (66%), followed by teachers and school (41%), the lessons children enjoy (31%) and then friends (14%).
Of those parents who knew what an apprenticeship was, just 14% considered it to be a good option, while three times as many parents (42%) said they wanted their children to attend university, despite crippling tuition fees and long-term debt prospects.
The top reasons given for not encouraging their child to undertake an apprenticeship were that they were thought to be poorly paid (43%), because they see it as a last resort for those who fail their exams (37%), and a perception that apprenticeships don’t lead to successful careers (17%).
This research was independently commissioned by ABM UK, which surveyed 2,000 British parents of children aged 11 to 16 and 2,000 young people aged 11 to 16.
Director Adam Baker said: “We were shocked to find a genuine lack of knowledge of apprenticeships amongst parents, and that many still consider them to be a last resort for children who fail their exams. It shows a need for a more unified approach and a better way of communicating, especially because Mum and Dad are in the driving seat when it comes to career choices.
"When a young person is set to choose a university, there’s a huge amount of support from schools, parents and educational bodies such as UCAS. We need similar representation for apprenticeships and technical careers to ensure young people in the UK don’t miss out on enriching, lucrative and credible career options."
“The purpose of our research isn’t to finger point, it’s to help parents, and other influencers. It’s vital we give parents and schools more information and empower them to show children all the options open to them, to understand that there are different paths to consider and apprenticeships shouldn’t be pigeon-holed or disregarded from the conversation.
“It isn’t just down to parents, key industries also have a role to play. When a young person is set to choose a university, there’s a huge amount of support from schools, parents and educational bodies such as UCAS. We need similar representation for apprenticeships and technical careers to ensure young people in the UK don’t miss out on enriching, lucrative and credible career options.”
The engineering and facilities management industries are particularly disadvantaged by the awareness gap; 60% of young people said that they were unlikely to even consider working in engineering or facilities management, with over a third (39%) saying that they wouldn’t consider working in this area because they didn’t know anything about it. When asked, just a quarter of parents said they would encourage their children to consider careers in these areas.