Traditional or vocational?

QA research shows 74% of school children would consider an apprenticeship, but less than 20% know anything about them

As GCSE and A Level students receive their results this summer, research undertaken by IT and business apprenticeship training provider QA Apprenticeships has found that 80% of students know little or nothing about IT and professional apprenticeships. 

Ben Pike, Director of QA Apprenticeships, says: “Our research shows conclusively that, without schools improving their careers advice, many school leavers could miss out on the fantastic apprenticeship opportunities being offered by employers.”

Despite the widespread lack of knowledge about IT and professional apprenticeships, QA’s research found that, once informed, 74% of secondary school children “would consider” the option as an alternative to university. The research also highlights the importance of more inclusive careers advice, with girls indicating they were four times less likely to consider the idea of a technology apprenticeship than boys. 

“Our goal is to actively support the influx of 16 to 18 year-olds who are in search of alternative paths to career success,” continues Pike, “Whilst apprenticeships are slowly gaining more acceptance as an alternative to university, we hope new government targets will be a catalyst for even more young people to explore alternative offerings to university. Not everybody learns in the same way and so we welcome the drive towards on-the-job training programmes and urge schools and colleges to quickly shift their focus from university being the primary option.”

As George Osborne’s budget announced cuts to university maintenance grants whilst pledging 3m new apprenticeships by 2020, QA have committed to expanding their schools’ outreach programme across the UK, to ensure the next generation are equipped with full knowledge of the career opportunities within the rapidly growing technology sector. 

“Schools and parents urgently need to think again about the advantages and potential of apprenticeships for all school age students,” said Siobhan Cronin, Head of Engagement at QA Apprenticeships, “Many traditional ideas about career success are now out-dated. Apprenticeships offer a proven and structured first step into the working world, offering pay, qualifications and education, as well as the developing the crucial real world experience many employers seek out in candidates.” 

The research also showed that those most committed to apprenticeships tend to be very career minded and serious about their future career, which, for the technology employers QA works with, highlights the huge opportunity that apprenticeship programmes provide to develop the digital skills pipeline in the UK. 

QA have placed 5,000 apprentices in the space of five years. The company plans to reach the milestone of 10,000 in the next year with the launch of their 10KinTech campaign, an initiative that has already gained the support of EE, Microsoft and 

QA’s apprenticeship degree to take school children from GCSE to degree will launch later this autumn.    

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