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Misconceptions forcing would-be apprentices to miss out on opportunities

New research revealed apprentices are being put off programmes due to misconceptions about potential earnings and qualifications

The new study from Prudential questioned 16- to 18-year-olds who had opted against apprenticeships and found that most of those questioned (87 per cent) thought they would earn less than £200 each week for being an apprentice – despite the average wage being £257. Four per cent actually thought that apprentices worked for free, while one in ten said they did not think they could gain recognised qualifications as part of an apprenticeship programme.

The research also highlighted that recruiters for apprenticeships may be facing a more difficult job than they should as a result of a lack of information being offered to college and school students about apprenticeships. Over one-quarter (almost 30 per cent) of the 16- to 18-year-olds questioned rated apprenticeship information at colleges and schools as non-existent, very poor or poor; in comparison, just six per cent of the respondents said there was a shortage of information being offered about going to university.

A total of 15 per cent of the respondents said they had decided not to do an apprenticeship as a result of a failure by their college or school to offer it as a choice, while eight per cent said they thought this type of programme was for people who could not get a university place.

The study also found that over one-third of the teenagers (36 per cent) had shunned an apprenticeship in favour of other options, as they thought they would not gain a good qualification. The reality is that apprenticeship and recruitment experts know that some programmes can enable apprentices to gain qualifications equivalent to bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Prudential’s corporate services executive director, Cathy Lewis, said the study highlighted that more work is needed to bring the truth about apprenticeships into line with perceptions.

There are over 200 different apprenticeship types currently being offered in England, covering 13 different work sectors; however, the Prudential research found that almost one-third (29 per cent) of the respondents said they believed programmes were only available in certain areas of work. Almost half (48 per cent), for example, were unaware of apprenticeships available in the insurance and financial services industries.

The government has pledged to support three million new English apprenticeships in the five-year period to 2020, and figures show that almost 500,000 young people took up apprentice positions in the 2014/2015 period.

Prudential has launched its own 2016 apprenticeship programme, with up to 40 youngsters taking part and earning the living wage.

Meanwhile, a Scottish Gas survey has revealed that older people seeking a career change may be missing out on opportunities because they think they are too old for an apprenticeship. Almost half (44 per cent) of more than 1,000 people questioned admitted they would not consider an apprenticeship and nearly 25 per cent believed they were too old.

Only three per cent of the people questioned said they thought an apprenticeship was suitable for people in their 30s, yet almost one-third of the current apprentices at Scottish Gas are aged 30+.

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