The Association of Colleges’ recent report has highlighted the alarming lack of awareness or interest in pursuing an apprenticeship, with just 17% of boys and 12% of girls considering this career option. 

Commenting on the statistics Diane Johnson, skills ambassador at the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA), said, “The low awareness of the existence of apprenticeships among young people is very worrying but not surprising as it comes after decades of the degree being seen as the default education option. The government’s recent focus on apprenticeships, although welcome, has yet to filter through to children via parents or their teachers. 

“This ignorance, coupled with the cost of offering apprenticeships in skilled trades such as electrical contracting (particularly for smaller firms), as well as an ageing workforce, means we are facing a skills crisis in the traditional craft industries. The report also highlights the low understanding of emerging sectors like renewable energy. Notably, the traditional craft industries like electrical contracting dovetail and can offer routes into working on installing renewable energies.

“We’re also fostering a disenfranchised graduate class whose skills are being underutilised. There are options out there but these young people are not being given the information to make the right choices.”

These findings are also reflected in a One Poll survey for the Edge education foundation – among 1,000 people who followed a vocational option, just a quarter said their parents had thought it was worthwhile and a third that their school had supported their choice.

Johnson concluded, “Although the government has taken steps to raise the profile and credibility of apprenticeships, such as injecting more rigour into these qualifications, more needs to be done to convince the public of the value of craft apprenticeships.”