Almost a quarter of Scottish students considering an apprenticeship

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Almost a quarter (22%) of school students Scotland (aged 16 – 18) say they will consider an apprenticeship after leaving school as their route into employment, according to a new study commissioned by AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians).

To tie in with Scottish Apprenticeship Week (March 6-10), AAT has revealed the employment dreams of students and businesses’ requirements when hiring a new employee.

AAT found the main reasons for young people in Scotland considering an apprenticeship over university were:

· They can start earning money straight away – 100%;

· They feel the job market is so competitive they want to get a job as soon as possible – 66%;

· They want to learn valuable work skills as soon as possible– 34%.

AAT revealed that over half of 16-30 year olds in Scotland (57%) think an apprenticeship could fast track their careers over university. Looking at the views of degree holders, in hindsight, over half (52%), would now consider an alternative route into employment rather than a university degree, while 43 per cent will still consider doing an apprenticeship in the future.

A degree is not a prerequisite for white collar jobs

AAT found that 54 per cent of firms in Scotland do not look for candidates with a degree when recruiting entry-level roles – only 21 per cent said they always want their new employees to have a degree. Far more important than qualifications gained was for the candidate to have the right attitude (36%), and relevant work experience (25%).

Indeed, experience of the workplace – something an apprenticeship scheme offers – can provide a real boost to job prospects, with one in five businesses in Scotland (21%) thinking that having the relevant work experience is always more important than having a specific education, compared with zero per cent that believe the opposite to be the case.

Most businesses in Scotland (79%) say that having the correct credentials on paper diminishes in importance over time, with qualifications becoming less important after two years in the workplace on average.

Future recruiting

Four fifths (79%) of businesses in Scotland think that more young people will choose different routes into employment including apprenticeships over the next five years. Three quarters (73%) of those think they will change the way they recruit new staff in future. 18 per cent of businesses in Scotland will increasingly take apprenticeships into consideration and 14 per cent will attach less importance to a degree in their recruitment policy.

Research among businesses in Scotland also found half (50%) have taken on apprentices or those with an apprenticeship qualifications in the last five years. 57 per cent of employers in Scotland that have taken on candidates with apprenticeships say they have generally performed better than those with a university degree, while a further 29 per cent think they perform just as well.

Mark Farrar, Chief Executive, AAT said; “Apprenticeships can do much for social mobility, allowing people to gain a recognised qualification and professional skills while earning a salary. In an increasingly competitive job market, we wanted to really delve into what young people of today were thinking ahead of embarking on their career paths.

“At AAT we strongly support the Government’s stance to increase engagement with apprenticeships, though we feel the apprenticeship levy should be widened in scope to allow for investment in high quality traineeships and other forms of training. People of all ages can get ahead by doing an apprenticeship and businesses will have an alternative source of expertise to draw on – a work ready pool of talent. An apprenticeship is a clear way to show how good quality training can help people kick start their careers.”

Sue Husband, director, National Apprenticeship Service said: “The research released by AAT clearly shows the positive impact apprenticeships can have on both apprentices and employers alike. The findings mirror what we already know – 92% of apprentices in work feel that their apprenticeship has a positive impact on their career. And we also know that from an employer’s perspective, 75% report that apprentices have helped their business improve the quality of their product or service.

“I am delighted to see the positive impact apprenticeships can have on social mobility is being recognised more widely; whilst many young people, leaving school, are now considering apprenticeships as their first step in to a brilliant career.”

The full report ‘Apprenticeships: Getting ahead for Accelerated Ambitions’ can be found on the AAT website.