Almost half (46 per cent) of British parents of children aged 11-18 surveyed in a new report would encourage their offspring to take an apprenticeship. But more than one in 10 still maintain that apprenticeships are a second best route to a career after a degree, according to YouGov research out today at the UK Skills Show in Birmingham.

The study of over 2,000 parents commissioned by BAE Systems and the Royal Academy of Engineering shows a positive shift in attitudes towards apprenticeships. Almost a third of those surveyed stated that they see apprenticeships as a viable option for their children, admitting that five years ago it was not something they would have ever considered.

In particular, 42 per cent said that their perception of apprenticeships had changed positively in the last year, while over two thirds were pleased that apprenticeships are now presented as an attractive option for young people.

Sir John Parker, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering said: "If the UK’s industrial strategy is to be successful in its delivery, we will need a much bigger push for apprenticeships and other vocational pathways to engineering careers, so I am delighted to see that perceptions are changing for the better.

“Apprenticeships will not only play an important role in helping to meet the increasing demand for engineers and technicians, but I know from first-hand experience that apprenticeships give young people a brilliant start to their engineering careers.”

Almost half of the parents interviewed agreed that an apprenticeship is the smart way to get an education leading to a good job and over a quarter concurred that an apprenticeship is more useful than a university degree in view of the on-the-job training provided.

A common concern, shared by almost half of parents surveyed is the amount of student debt that young people can accrue – up to £43,500 (ref. note 3) – but they also acknowledged it doesn’t put them off persuading their children to go to university.

Although positive news for apprenticeships, some old prejudices still remain, particularly amongst a small percentage of higher-earning households that see apprenticeships as good options but not suitable for their children.

Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise, Matthew Hancock MP, said: “These figures are encouraging to see. I want choosing to go to university or beginning an apprenticeship to become the new norm for young people, and I’m pleased to see thatattitudes arechanging.There is still work to do though and we have recentlycarried out an extensive review of apprenticeships in the UK. I am looking forward to delivering a reformed system that works even better for employers as well as learners.”

Sir Richard Olver FREng, Chairman at BAE Systems added: “It is fantastic to see that the huge amount of work put into promoting the value and image of apprenticeships over the last few years is now making a real impact. We need to encourage more organisations throughout the UK to offer apprenticeships – our own experience at BAE Systems has demonstrated their value to our young people and our business.”

The research has been released today ahead of a debate, part of the Engineering for Growth campaign, jointly hosted by the Academy and BAE Systems at the Skills Show, which will explore the perceptions, value and future of apprenticeships in the 21st century. The debate will be chaired by Lord Digby Jones and will see speakers including Rt Hon Matthew Hancock MP, Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise Professor Matthew Harrison, Director of Education Programmes at the Royal Academy of Engineering and Sir Richard Olver FREng, Chairman of BAE Systems, contribute their views on the role apprenticeships will play in closing the skills gaps in engineering and technology in particular.

Notes for editors

  1. Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering.

    We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.

    We have four strategic challenges: Drive faster and more balanced economic growth; Foster better education and skills; Lead the profession; Promote engineering at the heart of society.
  2. BAE Systems and the Royal Academy of Engineering used an independent research company YouGov. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,022 parents with children aged 11-18. Fieldwork was undertaken between 1-6 November 2013. The survey was carried out online.
  3. According to statistics from money charity Credit Action:

For more information please contact

Lesley Paterson, Royal Academy of Engineering
Mob: +44 (0)7760 161316, Email: Lesley Paterson