Less than half of young adults in Cardiff received ‘useful’ careers education and advice while they were at school, according to a new study carried out by construction firm Redrow Homes. The study which looked at attitudes to apprenticeships among 16 to 21-year-olds and their parents.
Just 13% of Cardiff’s young adults said they benefitted from high quality information and advice on a wide range of careers and feel well guided whilst less than a fifth (19%) felt the opportunities presented by apprenticeships had been outlined for them at school.
More than half (56%) believe better careers advice in schools would encourage more young people to pursue apprenticeships.
But only a tiny 6% would consider a career in construction with widespread misconceptions about the industry still dominating.
Only a quarter had heard about careers in construction
Just a quarter said a career in construction had been discussed with them at school or by a careers’ advisor. More than a third (38%) of young adults in Cardiff associate working in construction as being mainly manual labour while the same proportion believe it would largely involve being on a building site.
General perceptions of apprenticeships were more positive with more than half (56%) saying it is a good way of earning money while studying and not incurring student debt and a further 44% said it offered greater financial independence at an earlier age than continuing to study full-time.
However, there were mixed feelings about the longer term career prospects for those who take up apprenticeships with 25% worrying that apprenticeships led to lower average career earnings than traditional graduate career pathways.
While more than a third (38%) think apprentices have a better chance of learning a trade which will enable them to start their own business than university graduates, a quarter said apprentices are more likely to end up in a manual role than someone who studies a degree.
More than a quarter believe apprentices are more likely to gain useful qualifications & skills than graduates
A quarter of respondents also agreed that apprentices are more likely than graduates to gain qualifications and learn skills that are relevant to their career path, the same number also believe apprentices have greater opportunities for career progression and promotion at a younger age.
Just under half (44%) said increasing the starting wage for apprenticeships would encourage more young people to consider it.
What did parents say?
Parents’ feelings towards construction jobs mirrored that of their children with a third (35%) thinking it largely involves being on a building site and while 29% said manual labour. More than half (53%) of parents associate construction as an industry dominated by men.
Despite 59% of parents talking to their children about apprenticeships, just 12% had discussed the possibility of a career in construction.
A worrying 88% of parents did not think their child had been taught the skills needed to help them own their own business in the future.
However, parents had an overwhelmingly positive outlook on apprenticeships with four fifths (82%) acknowledging the financial benefit of an apprenticeship enabling young people to earn while training and almost half (47%) saying it offer greater financial independence at an earlier age.
A further 71% said apprentices are more likely to gain qualifications and learn skills relevant to their career path while 59% believe they have more opportunities than graduates to receive mentoring and coaching in the workplace.
The vast majority of parents (71%) believe the best way to encourage more young people to study apprenticeships would be to increase the starting wage while more than half said improved careers advice and promotion of the opportunities available through school, government and other bodies would help.
Karen Jones, HR Director at Redrow, commented:
“With Brexit sharpening concerns that the construction skills shortage will deepen, it is more important than ever that we reach out to all young people, and ensure they are educated in the different career paths that construction can offer.
“While it is fantastic to see more parents discussing apprenticeships and careers in construction with their children, the story begins in schools, where educators are providing advice and information to our young people.
“Despite the Baker Clause coming into effect and putting pressure on schools to give training providers and colleges access to secondary school pupils, it is not clear that the impact of this is trickling through and having a positive impact on the education and skills these routes can provide.
“A greater level of Government intervention is needed here. As well as providing more financial support to apprentices themselves, the Government must take a stricter stance on schools failing to make sure young people are aware of all the career options available to them.
“Our industry still has more of a job to do in terms of communicating the benefits of apprenticeships, where these are financial in terms of avoiding university debt, or employability. Hopefully, our findings can act as a real catalyst for change.”
Recommendations for driving increasingly positive perceptions of apprenticeships and careers in construction:
- Improve careers advice in schools and increase Government intervention in schools to make sure young people are aware of all options
- Apprentices to be offered additional bursaries for travel costs, and for necessary equipment and materials
- Cost of taking on an apprentice scheme vs. going to a University must be made clear
- Building up female role models at a senior level
- Reforming apprenticeships to focus on applied Maths and English skills
- Creating a ‘UCAS style’ programme which centrally lists all live apprenticeship opportunities
This year Redrow took on a record 208 apprentices, and the highest number of female apprentices to date. This month Redrow has opened up a further 80 new apprentice vacancies for both office and trade roles. To find out more please visit: www.redrowcareers.co.uk