Youth market insights: Apprenticeships

With the rise of alternatives to higher education, such as degree apprenticeships, students now have more options to consider than ever before. This article summarises findings from our annual Options report about apprenticeships and demonstrates interesting ways and optimal times to engage prospective apprentices.

Alternatives to university

Although university remains the top pathway for students (76%), we’ve seen a fall in numbers over the last three years. Alternatives to university have increased with 7% taking a gap year, 6% doing an apprenticeship and 3% going straight to employment.

What’s also interesting is that we’ve seen a rise in undecided respondents from 5% in 2016 and 2017 to 8% in 2018. This provides an untapped audience for recruiters looking for apprentices. As The Student Room is the place where young people research their options and form opinions, it’s a valuable platform for marketers to engage those unsure about their pathway and empower them to make a decision. Have a look at this case study for ways to reach a wider student audience and encourage interaction from more young people looking for support with their career.

Students’ apprenticeship perceptions

Apprenticeships are an appealing route for students to gain work experience, further education and training, whilst earning money. With ‘opportunity to get a job’ (52%) and ‘improved long-term career prospects’ (51%) being the top reasons for choosing an apprenticeship or vocational training it’s clear young people choosing the apprenticeship pathway to understand they’ll receive a return on investment and increase chances of achieving their preferred career.

The below graph shows 63% of respondents feel there is a stigma attached to apprenticeships. According to, who surveyed more than 1,000 young people about their apprenticeship perceptions, 51% of people stated that apprenticeships are either for manual jobs or are mainly for school leavers who didn’t make the requisite grades for University. Of these, 14% agreed that apprenticeships are for school leavers who can’t afford to go to University. This suggests there is still work to be done on educating young people about the different types of apprenticeships and that they are not only practical, hands-on professions.

Talking to young people in an approachable way and addressing key concerns can help your campaigns stand out from the crowd and resonate with students sharing similar feelings. Engaging with them as early as Year 11 will ensure recruiters are consistent in providing the relevant information and nurturing their potential market throughout all research and consideration stages.

Changing perceptions

However, despite the stigmas around apprenticeships, only 10% of respondents thought that apprenticeships led to low-income employment. This is an opportunity for apprenticeship providers to endorse the experience, qualifications and career prospects a young person can gain.

Considering that an astonishing 56% of students would be more interested in doing an apprenticeship if it was run by a top university, we can assume students want to be associated with their reputation and feel the name of a top university will add value and gravitas to their qualification in the world of work.  

Why not use content to emphasise the significance of a business apprenticeship in the world of work? You could write a Q&A blog where experts in a field share the career prospects of a certain apprenticeship or what skills and qualifications certain employers value. Utilising or sponsoring existing content to share knowledge with prospective apprentices is another smart way to build resonance with your target audience.  

An authentic voice

According to government research, 89% of apprentices are satisfied with their apprenticeship and 92% said their career prospects had improved.

Here lies an opportunity for marketers to endorse the experience, getting a testimonial on board or advising prospective apprentices on The Student Room via an Official Rep account will elevate your marketing campaigns.  This real-time engagement product has become a vital social media tool for many of our partners. Using real representatives to engage with students in a place they trust is a powerful way of building connections and empowering decision making.

Prospective apprentices on The Student Room

Between Jan and Mar 2018, we’ve seen a significant rise in interest in our apprenticeship forum. More than 200,000 users* sought out for advice about apprenticeships.

Some of the questions asked were:

Is there any way of getting into STEM careers via an apprenticeship or does it have to be through academia?

I would like to do a chemical engineering apprenticeship, but where is the best place to look?

What do u need to do to get a degree apprenticeship?

The Student Room is in the unique position of having authentic conversations with young people every day. Services such as our Apprenticeship Hub offer tips, advice and guidance and help students to make informed decisions.

Our partners like The National Careers Service have already taken advantage of our exclusive place in the market and engaged in honest and open conversations. You can too, here’s how.


*devices we can target