by LAUREN CODLING
YOUNG people could be dissuaded from applying to apprenticeship schemes due to the
“outdated views” of their parents, a senior minister warned last week.
The comments came after new analysis, conducted by Mumsnet, revealed that many parents were unaware of the range of opportunities apprenticeships could offer. According
to data, more than 60 per cent of parents of children aged 13-18 voiced fears that their child would be stuck “making the tea” if they choose an apprenticeship.
In addition, 45 per cent of parents surveyed said they did not think apprenticeships were
valued as highly as a university degree by the UK’s top employers.
In response, education secretary Gavin Williamson warned that those “outdated views” could be holding young people back from pursuing their dream career. “Every parent wants the best for their children and when they ask you for advice about their future, it’s incredibly daunting,” Williamson said. “But I know when I’m asked for help by my children, I will absolutely encourage them to consider an apprenticeship.”
He added: “As we celebrate the life-changing potential of apprenticeships, I would urge
all parents to do the same and look beyond stereotypes and embrace every opportunity.”
Neilesh Champaneri, 24, pursued an electrician apprenticeship in 2017. He is now a fully
qualified electrician working at Derby Homes, an organisation created to manage, maintain
and improve local council houses. He is also chair of the East Midlands Young Apprentice Ambassador Network.
Although he said his parents were supportive of his decision to apply for an apprenticeship,
Champaneri admitted concerns that others may face barriers if their families disagree with their choices.
“I think my parents were an exception,” Champaneri told Eastern Eye. “I think generally
parents haven’t been informed as well as they should be on what the benefits of apprenticeships can bring.
“(However), I think it is getting better and my job as an ambassador is trying to talk to
schools, teachers, parents and employers on what the benefits of apprenticeships are.”
Despite the encouragement of his parents, Champaneri recalled other family members
questioning his decision. Some were surprised that he was not taking the “traditional” route of university.
Acknowledging that some British Asian parents would prefer their children to follow more academic career paths, Champaneri believes there needed to be increased awareness of apprenticeships. For instance, many may not realise that some apprenticeship routes can lead to careers in law and medicine. “If more information was given, I think a lot more (of the older generation) would be persuaded,” he said.
Champaneri added that there were many harmful misconceptions about apprenticeships. Referring to the Mumsnet research, he agreed there was a stigma surrounding apprenticeships which related to the idea that young people were made to do “cheap labour”.
There could also be a perception that apprenticeships were a second option for those who did not get the grades to go to university, Champaneri added.
As an apprenticeship ambassador, he is keen to bring a level of understanding to wider
groups. For instance, previous research has shown that 90 per cent of those who had completed an apprenticeship had secured a job or went on to further learning, with 88
per cent in sustained employment. “It is not only parents who need to understand this,”
he said. “I think if young people, teachers and employers had a better understanding, it would help to dispel a lot of the uncertainty around apprenticeships.”