Teenage apprenticeships: Converting awareness to recruitment

By Elnaz T. Kashefpakdel and Jordan Rehill

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Recent government figures have shown that despite the overall number of apprenticeships increasing, the number of under 19s starts have stagnated at around 20%. With the support of the Commercial Education Trust (CET), this project explores the characteristics of schools and individuals who buck the trend and asks: what distinguishes schools which guide significant numbers of pupils into apprenticeships from those which do not?  What distinguishes young people who express an interest in apprenticeships in their mid-teens and go on to secure one from those who do not?

This report  collates evidence from contemporary research literature and governmental reports as well as new quantitative data sources, and in doing so provides new evidence to schools and colleges seeking to optimise their apprenticeship guidance provision and improve the chances of young people making a smooth transition into apprenticeships. Whilst a long-lasting and sustainable strategy is needed to change the way apprenticeships are viewed by schools/colleges, parents and pupils, effective best practice can help to bridge this gap in the interim and go some way to increasing the percentage of school leavers starting apprenticeships.



The report draws on existing literature assessing young people’s perceptions of the value of becoming an apprentice. It also explores studies on how young people make decisions about their education and training based on their knowledge and perception of the labour market. The review was undertaken with the aim of identifying literature which provides reliable insights of value to schools and colleges in the UK from the year 2000 onwards.

The report also presents data from a new survey commissioned to YouGov and Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE) which both assess the experiences of young people in college and school and how this may impact their subsequent awareness, aspirations and success in applying for an apprenticeship.

Insights were also gathered from employers who hire a significant number of teenage apprentices. Their responses shed light on the skills and attitudes employers feel school and college leavers are lacking, and, moreover, how schools and colleges can align their provision to both promote apprenticeships as a viable career path and better prepare young people when they apply. Schools and colleges were also invited to share their experiences of guiding young people directly into apprenticeships from school and college.

In combining these evidence sources this report provides new guidance to schools and colleges seeking to optimise the careers information advice and guidance on offer and improve the chances of their students in making a smooth transition into apprenticeships.


Recommendations for schools and colleges

  • Support should be provided to schools and colleges to further raise the confidence of school staff in providing advice to interested students.
  • Increase and diversify the amount of apprenticeship events involving employers, invite ex/current apprentices into school.
  • Schools and colleges should do more to engage parents as part of wider apprenticeship awareness. In order for apprenticeships to be regarded as a genuine alternative to university, it is important that parents understand their value and potential as a way of helping their children progress in the labour market, as in many cases they will have a significant influence on their children’s career choices.
  • Do more to promote advanced and higher level apprenticeships.
  • Raise awareness of apprenticeships from a younger age.
  • Schools and colleges should do more to challenge gender stereotypes and broaden the aspirations of young women who are thinking about apprenticeships.
  • Tailor recruitment skills provision to reflect the methods and processes that employers now use to hire apprentices

Download the report.