Schools, businesses and the government must work together to ensure apprenticeships are seen as a desirable alternative to university, according to Simon Moffatt, human resources director at Prudential’s UK insurance business.
“Our research has uncovered some misconceptions about apprenticeships among school leavers, and the best way to tackle any misunderstandings is to provide the best possible information about the wide range of apprenticeship opportunities available,” Moffatt told HR magazine. “I believe the responsibility for making sure that apprenticeships are understood as a genuine alternative to university is a collective one. I think it’s a joint responsibility between schools, businesses and the government.”
Research from Prudential has found that among 16- to 18-year-olds 47% did not know about apprenticeship opportunities, and 61% did not know which employers offer apprenticeships. However, around 46% disagreed that apprenticeships should be seen as second best to university, while 33% did not think attending university is more likely to result in career success.
The survey also highlighted a significant education problem around more vocational options, with 26% of students stating that either the information on apprenticeships they received was poor or that they received no information at all.
Moffatt highlighted the business case for apprenticeships. “For businesses there is a huge benefit in recruiting young people who often bring with them fresh ideas and innovation,” he said. “From our perspective as an employer we want to make sure that we’re recruiting all of our employees, including apprentices, from the widest pool of talent as possible, doing what we can to remove any perceived barriers.”
At Prudential apprenticeships are offered across many of its departments, including within IT, HR, customer services, operations, sales support, distribution, financial planning and marketing.
“Businesses need to create the opportunities for young people and, working together in partnership with schools and the government, we collectively need to support young people by providing good-quality information about the full range of options that are available when they leave school – including vocational routes into employment – and the skills they’ll need to access them,” added Moffatt.
The apprenticeship levy comes into effect in April.