Degrees still preferred over apprenticeships in London, while latter suffers from an image problem in the eyes of young people, parents and employers

Francesca Washtell
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Only two per cent of young people in London said they planned to pursue an apprenticeship (Source: Getty)

Apprenticeships are struggling to compete with university qualifications in London, according to research released today by the business support organisation Interserve.

Work-based learning programmes, including apprenticeships, are suffering from an image problem in the eyes of young people, parents and employers, and still lag behind academic degrees that are viewed to be more prestigious, Interserve's study found.

Only two per cent of young people in London said they currently plan to do an apprenticeship, which is below the UK average of seven per cent.

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In addition, only seven per cent of London-based businesses valued work-based training programmes such as apprenticeships when looking for new recruits, the survey of over 5,000 people and 500 businesses found.

In contrast, a third of London-based businesses were found to value university degrees significantly more than other employers based elsewhere in the UK.

Parents in London were also the least likely across the UK to think an apprenticeship would be the most useful training programme to their children in pursuing a future career. Only 14 per cent of parents in the capital thought apprenticeships would provide a valuable leg-up, compared to 27 per cent across other regions.

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On the other hand, three out of five (62 per cent) of London parents believed a university degree is the best option, which is significantly higher than in the rest of the UK - the average across all regions was 42 per cent.

Adrian Ringrose, chief executive of Interserve, said.

It is evident that apprenticeships suffer from an image problem and lack the prestige assigned to university education.

Business, government and educators must all work together to better inform parents and young people about apprenticeships, in order to ensure that these schemes can become a driving force for skills and sustainable careers.

British businesses were found to be hiring 25 per cent more apprentices earlier this year as firms recorded a slowdown in graduate recruitment.

Grace Mehanna, talent and skills director at Business in the Community, said: "Interserve’s findings show that there is still a long way to go to communicate the full value of apprenticeships to parents and young people.

"To build a strong and diverse talent pipeline, we would urge businesses to make this a central part of their recruitment strategy."