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Public four times more likely to think apprenticeships offer young people better job prospects than university

People are four times more likely to think apprenticeships offer young people better job prospects than university, according to new research from tech startup Multiverse, shifting from the long held perception that a university degree provides young people with the best chance of succeeding in life.

The new report finds that almost half of the public (44%) believe apprenticeships offer young people better job prospects and preparation for the workplace than university, while just one in ten (11%) thinks the opposite.

Engineer showing equipment to a female apprentice, close up
Engineer showing equipment to a female apprentice, close up

The research also challenges perceptions that apprenticeships are widely seen as an option for other people’s children. When presented with the choice between university and an apprenticeship for a family member, fewer than two in ten (17%) respondents said they would prefer a relative to go university, in contrast to almost three quarters of respondents (73%) who said they would want a family member to do an apprenticeship.

This is a view shared across all income groups, with just two in ten (19%) of the highest earners preferring a family member to go to university rather than begin an apprenticeship.

Multiverse’s representative poll of 1,517 people in England also reveals that seven in ten people (70%) believe that apprenticeships should receive more government support than universities. When asked about how they would like to see funding divided, respondents allocated two thirds of cash to apprenticeships on average and only a third to universities – approximately the opposite of the current proportion.

The new research comes as Multiverse sets out a number of recommendations to remove barriers and unlock the potential of apprenticeships in the UK, calling on the government to make it easier for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to access funding to train up the next generation of their workforce.

Recommendations include:

  • Creating opportunities for SMEs to take on apprentices by increasing the cap on apprenticeship levy transfers for large businesses’ underspend from 25% to 50%.
  • Removing barriers for learners by accepting degrees as evidence of functional skills rather than requiring Level 2 certificates in English and Maths.
  • Generating national opportunities by putting apprenticeship outcomes data on par with University outcomes data.
Engineer Showing Teenage Apprentice How To Use Lathe
Engineer Showing Teenage Apprentice How To Use Lathe

Euan Blair, CEO at Multiverse, said: “This National Apprenticeship Week, it’s great that we continue to see more and more demand for apprenticeships; not only from prospective apprentices themselves, their family members, and wider society, but from a huge volume of employers, both large and small. The contribution apprentices make to businesses and society is enormous – the Government’s own data shows that for every £1 spent on an apprenticeship, more than £28 is put back into the economy.

“Beyond that, apprenticeships are fulfilling the potential of millions of people, diversifying our workforce across the UK, and addressing some of the most critical skills gaps, particularly in digital and tech. Our report provides clear evidence of the opportunities apprenticeships are unlocking in Britain.”

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