News & Blog

Read the latest business news, blogs and thought leadership articles from our members, as well as updates on the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce's work in the city.

News & Blog

Changing attitudes to apprenticeships as students, parents and employers see more value  

Posted: 6th March 2018

With a record number of young people taking up Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland, new research released from leading business and financial adviser Grant Thornton UK LLP, ahead of Scottish Apprenticeship Week (5-9 March), finds that attitudes towards apprenticeship programmes are becoming more positive.

Figures from Skills Development Scotland reveal the number of Modern Apprenticeship starts in 2016/17 hit 26,262, beating the target of 26,000, with more than three-quarters taken up by 16 to 24 year olds. The data echoes findings from Grant Thornton’s new ‘Generation Apprentice’ report, suggesting there is ongoing evolution in the way apprenticeships are viewed throughout the UK, with more employers, young people and parents recognising it as a valuable route to a successful career.

The report, which surveyed 1,000 young people (aged 16-25) and 1,000 parents (of under 18s), revealed that:

  • 77% of young people and 79% of parents think that apprenticeships offer good career prospects
  • Almost half (42%) of young people think apprenticeships and university degrees have the same value
  • 45% of parents think a university degree delivers less value than it used to
  • Two thirds (60%) of young people think that you do not need to go to university to get a well-paid job
  • More than half (51%) of the young respondents who are currently at university do not believe their degree guarantees them a well-paid job.

The report also investigated the attitudes of 500 UK employers. The employer findings, developed in partnership with City & Guilds, showed a similarly positive sentiment about hiring apprentices, as providing training on the job also enables organisations to meet the skills requirements of their business in an agile and flexible way. Half of the employers surveyed said that they plan to recruit more apprentices than they do now in the next five years.

While the attitudes of young people, parents and employers are evolving, the quality of advice and support for young people looking to undertake further and higher education is not keeping pace.  The research showed that more than two-thirds (68%) of young people say the career advice they receive is not good.  Young people say that the main sources of career information are online (46%), teachers (22%) and parents (17%).

Andrew Howie, Managing Partner of Grant Thornton in Scotland, said:

“This changing attitude represents an evolution in the expectations of young people and parents when it comes to learning beyond school.  Add in rising living costs and it becomes clear why those looking at higher education options are increasingly seeing apprenticeships and other earn as you learn routes, as a positive route in to a successful career.

“In our blueprint for the UK, Shaping a Vibrant Economy, we suggested that there is a need to incentivise collaboration between employers and education providers. This includes creating a new school performance measure for every pupil to have at least one interaction with an employer every year, and encouraging universities and business schools to offer graduate level apprenticeships.”

To download the full ‘Generation Apprentice’ report please visit:

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
Read more here