Students are more likely to consider an apprenticeship in the wake of Covid-19

Have you ever considered a career in construction? More young people aged 16-21 can see the appeal, following the results of UK housebuilder Redrow’s recent report exploring attitudes in the East of England regarding entry-level recruitment and employment. They discovered:

  • A third (32%) of 16- to 21-year-olds are less likely to choose a university education in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic
  • With nearly half (43%) of young people in the East of England believing they would not receive the same quality of education from university, post Covid-19.
  • 32% of young people in the region are more likely to consider an apprenticeship in the wake of Covid-19
  • But 53% of young people in the East of England said that a career in construction has never been discussed with them at school

Now in its fifth year, Redrow’s report analyses the barriers to entry-level recruitment into the construction and the housebuilding sector, as well as Redrow’s recommendations to overcome these. Redrow once again canvassed 2,000 parents and young people, as well as over 100 of its apprentices, and benchmarked the findings against previous years. This year, amidst the global Coronavirus pandemic, Redrow also investigated the impact Coronavirus has had on plans to embark on further education.

Redrow is calling on the government and industry to take advantage of today’s changing landscape and the opportunity to innovate the way that they attract young people into apprenticeships.

Karen Jones, HR Director at Redrow, commented, “The past 12 months have seen the nation rocked by the Coronavirus pandemic, and the shockwaves are still being felt. Unemployment has reached its highest level in five years and six out of 10 employers stopped all new apprenticeships with immediate effect in April 2020. As a result, apprenticeships stats are down 18% on the year before[1].

“But as success from the vaccine rollout and lockdown restrictions clear the way for a roadmap for a gradual re-opening of UK PLC, businesses can now start thinking about a positive and productive future. It is vital that young people can play a vital part in ‘building back better’, and apprenticeships will be critical in tackling the skills gap and helping power the UK’s economic recovery, as well as delivering much-needed homes and infrastructure.

“Educational routes that combine learning and earning will have an even greater appeal following this long period of social distancing we’ve experienced, and a more competitive jobs market. We believe that today’s changing landscape offers a real opportunity to innovate the way that in which we attract young people into apprenticeships. To help elevate apprenticeships as an option for young people, we must first address the more negative attitudes held by some teachers and parents, while highlighting the benefits to young people nationwide.”


Case study: Jorrdaine Richards Neville a 27 year-old apprentice electrician at Redrow’s Westley Green development in Basildon.

Jorrdaine, pictured, joined Redrow’s apprenticeship programme in 2018 from training to be an accountant.

“After leaving school I wasn’t too sure what to do and ended up at college studying accountancy. I wasn’t enjoying being at a desk all day, and it felt like my career wasn’t moving quick enough. At the same time, I was witnessing one of my friends succeed as an apprentice carpenter. He joined his course with no prior experience, and was now moving up the ranks quickly, taking on more responsibility, and earning money while he studied for his qualifications. After talking it through with my family who also work in the construction industry, I knew I wanted to leave my office role and find an apprenticeship scheme that would take me.

Now in his third year of his apprenticeship at Redrow, Jorrdaine said: “The best thing about the apprenticeship is learning on the job and discovering something new every day. There is always a clear plan of action for the day and it is so satisfying to see my work come to fruition. I am 100% glad I made this career decision; it was the best choice for me, and my skillset and now I’m able to work with a great team of people who all enjoy what they do. I really enjoy learning how things work and feel a real sense of achievement when I learn new skills such as writing a board or fitting my first fixing.

Responses to Redrow’s research also echoes Jorrdaine’s motivation for starting a new career as an apprentice, with 75% of young people in the East of England associating apprenticeships with earning money whilst studying, and not incurring student debt.

Jorrdaine said: “With so much uncertainty in the jobs market in the moment, I feel safe in the knowledge that I’m working in an industry that continues to perform, and that there’s a number of routes I can go down once I finish my course, whether it be commercial, industrial or a maintenance role. In fact, we are busier now due to the backlog of work that built up over the first few weeks of the first lockdown.

“From day one my supervisor saw I saw keen to learn more and are equipping me with the right skills and qualifications needed to fulfil my ambitions. One day I’d love to own my own business, servicing domestic households, and am already looking into taking my 2391 qualification exam, which will help me achieve this aspiration!”



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