A large proportion of employers value degree apprenticeships as highly as a university degree and would hire someone who took this route, according to new research from Barclays.
The high street bank surveyed young people, parents, educators and employers to discover how highly university degrees are rated and how far apprenticeships are from achieving parity.
Fear of not being able to get a job after university is a prominent worry for 42% of young people who did (or are doing) a degree, according to Barclays, while 58% cited the desire to improve their job prospects as the reason for obtaining a degree.
At the same time, 70% of employers said they valued degree apprenticeships as highly as a university degree, and 96% said they would hire someone who had done an apprenticeship or a degree via the apprenticeship route.
Barclays also found that a significant proportion of young people, 65%, felt under pressure to go to university in the first place, with a third citing this as coming from their parents and a fifth saying it was from their friends.
A sizeable 70% felt their parents would have been disappointed if they had not gone to university and when asked their reasons for choosing university, almost a fifth (18%) admitted they only went to please their parents.
But parents do not necessarily feel this way. More than half of parents of students and graduates say they would not have been disappointed had their child not gone to university and instead considered other routes.
In fact, 71% said they would actually encourage their child to do an apprenticeship over a university degree, revealing a significant shift in attitudes compared to 2016, when 65% of parents felt university was the best option for their child.
Educators’ attitudes are changing too, with almost half of those surveyed saying teachers discussed apprenticeships as an alternative career route, compared to under a quarter in 2016.
Mike Thompson, head of apprenticeships at Barclays and a member of the government’s apprenticeship delivery board, commented: “The significant increase in tuition fees and student debt has created a significant shift in attitudes towards university, as illustrated by our research. It’s encouraging to see that students, parents, employers and teachers are all considering alternatives to the traditional university route, especially with the introduction of the apprenticeship levy opening up apprenticeship opportunities across the UK.”
“We now need to work hard to further banish any stigma attached to apprenticeships, especially amongst students who may worry their parents perceive this as a ‘disappointing’ choice, which is simply not the case.”
“At Barclays, we strive to be a forward thinking bank and a force for stability, as evident by our wide range of apprenticeships, from foundation to master’s level, allowing apprentices to earn whilst they learn. Considering the significant value this adds to businesses, it’s no surprise that 96 per cent of employers would hire an employee who had obtained a degree via the apprenticeship route.”
Apprenticeships and skills minister Anne Milton said: “Our universities are world-class, but there are other routes to a successful career. We want to change the perception that one route is better than any other. Doing an apprenticeship brings amazing opportunities; you are earning while you are learning, and getting really valuable skills that will make you an attractive prospect to businesses.”
“There are high-quality apprenticeships available right up to degree level in lots of sectors at the cutting edge including engineering, aerospace, nursing and nuclear. You can also do an apprenticeship to become a teacher or accountant. There are so many opportunities out there.
“Apprenticeships are only going to keep growing in this country because employers like Barclays are increasingly realising it’s not just about what you know, it’s about the skills you have. Don’t have tunnel vision and make sure you find the route into a great job that’s right for you.”