Thousands of young people across Britain could be missing out on high-flying careers by dismissing apprenticeships – because they believe the training will not set them up for a leadership position.
This is according to an independent national survey* released today by Centrica, owner of British Gas, to mark the start of National Apprenticeship Week.
Two-thirds of people polled (66%) do not view apprenticeships as the best starting point to reaching a senior position in their career. More than two fifths (44%) believe university is the best start they can get.
When asked about the most important aspects of a job at the start of a career, almost half said ‘good earning potential’ (49%) and ‘opportunities for progression to a senior role’ (47%). However, two-thirds (66%) believe that only a degree would allow them to achieve these things.
Despite high quality apprenticeships on offer from employers such as Centrica, which provide a structured learning experience with industry qualifications built in, the majority of people surveyed (60%) had not considered an apprenticeship as a training option when they left school. More than a fifth (22%) said they had not considered the option because it would not have enabled them to get the job of their choice.
It is not just the views of those considering apprenticeships that are affecting uptake; the research found parents’ views of the training hugely influential.
Seven in ten (68%) parents say they would be proud of their children if they were accepted onto a university course, compared to half as many (32%) who would feel the same if their child was accepted onto an apprenticeship scheme.
In fact, 10% of people said they did not consider an apprenticeship when they left school because it was frowned upon by parents or teachers.
Despite the negative perceptions of apprenticeships, four in five (84%) believe apprentices have a positive impact on a company’s performance. This is supported by Centrica’s own findings from its recent customer service apprenticeship pilot where productivity increased by 6% and the Net Promoter Score, which measures customer satisfaction, increased by twenty points.
Craige Heaney, Head of Learning and Development at Centrica, said:
“It’s worrying that future leaders are limiting their options and not considering an apprenticeship as a route into an exciting and high-flying career. We have several examples of people who started their career as a British Gas apprentice and now hold a leadership position.
“Over the past ten years we’ve invested more than £260m in training 6,000 engineers and apprentices, because we recognise the positive impact this has on both our customers and business performance.
“By choosing to pursue a high quality apprenticeship that is developed by leading employers for apprentices of all ages, which also offer flexibility and transferable skills, the opportunities to reach to the top are limitless.”
These misconceptions are in stark contrast to the experience of 1,200 apprentices who are training at the British Gas Learning Hubs operated by Centrica around the country. When surveyed, more than 95% said their apprenticeship sets them up for a successful future.
In a survey that Centrica carried out among its own apprentices, nine in ten said they felt better equipped for the world of work than their friends who went to college or university.
Internal data from Centrica shows that once qualified, gas engineering apprentices go on to earn £325,853 over a ten-year period. Furthermore, joining one of Centrica’s apprenticeship schemes could open up to twelve alternative career paths over the same period, providing diverse opportunities for apprentices to develop and progress in their chosen career.
National Apprenticeship Week begins today [Monday 6 March] and runs for five days, with events being staged at Centrica’s Learning Hubs to showcase what apprenticeships bring to businesses, individuals and the economy.