By Daniel Hunter

The UK’s leading website for school and college leavers seeking advice when making choices about their future has conducted research to find out how many recent graduates were told about apprenticeships as another option whilst in secondary education and how many would have opted for a vocational training course over a degree.

With National Apprenticeship Week 2013 underway, the leading website for school and college leavers seeking alternative routes to university has carried out a poll to explore whether or not recent graduates were given information on vocational training and apprenticeships whilst in education, to make an informed choice about their future.

Notgoingtouni.co.uk which has just launched its fourth annual ‘Apprenticeship and Vocational Training Guide’, wanted to carry out the study amidst fresh concerns that there is a lack of knowledge and awareness surrounding apprenticeships as an alternative route to university, amongst young people, teachers and careers advisers. The site polled 1,774 young adults who had graduated from University in the UK in the past 2 years.

When asked, ‘Were you informed about apprenticeships or vocational training routes whilst at school or college, as an alternative option to university?’ the overwhelming majority, 76%, said ‘no’. These respondents were then questioned further and asked, if they had known about vocational training or apprenticeships, would they have gone down that route instead of university? Just over half, 54%, said they would have picked an apprenticeship or vocational training instead.

In order to find out the reasons behind this and specifically why the graduates polled would have opted for an apprenticeship or vocational degree if they’d known more about them, notgoingtouni.co.uk asked them to explain further. According to the results, the top reasons why graduates would have opted for vocational training were as follows:

· Would have avoided debt — 77%
· Would have been in better position at work than I am now — 61%
· Would have been less stressful than uni — 39%
· Now in industry completely irrelevant to my degree — 31%
· Other — 23%

The graduates taking part in the poll who had been told about apprenticeships or vocational training whilst in secondary education, but had still opted for university, were asked if, in hindsight, a vocational route would have been more beneficial to them than getting a degree. Two fifths, 41%, admitted that vocational training or becoming an apprentice would have been better in hindsight. When asked to explain why this was the case, the most popular answer was that they would have avoided debt (89%) but 57% admitted that they were now in an industry that had nothing to do with their degree.

All respondents were asked ‘Do you think all secondary education providers and careers advisers should be obliged to inform young people about apprenticeships and vocational training as another route to go down?’ to which 98% said ‘yes’.

This year’s ‘Apprenticeship and Vocational Training Guide’ is the fourth that notgoingtouni.co.uk has produced. It contains information surrounding the different types of apprenticeships available all around the UK, as well as case studies of young successful apprentices and businesses offering such schemes. The guide contains a foreword from successful entrepreneur and Dragons’ Den star Levi Roots, as well as support from PwC and the CEO of the National Apprenticeship Service David Way.

Sarah Clover, Communications Director at notgoingtouni.co.uk, spoke about the 2013 Apprenticeship and Vocational Training Guide: “With National Apprenticeship Week upon us, there’s no better time for young people to be thinking about their futures. With university fees rising, it’s now more important than ever for school and college leavers to have all the information they need about future career options.

"Apprenticeships are a great route for many people, which can lead to great success in a short space of time. Our guide this year will provide young people, careers advisers and teachers with everything they should need about apprenticeships and vocational training.

“The reason we carried out this research is due to growing concerns that young people aren’t being given the information they need to help them make informed decisions about their future. Many are pushed into university and later regret studying for a degree. It’s clearly a huge problem, because the overwhelming majority of recent graduates were not told about apprenticeships or vocational training as an option. This is simply not good enough and the young people of today are being let down.”

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