Apprenticeships: challenging perceptions

Since August 2019, as part of our careers advice and guidance work, we have been involved in the government funded ASK programme (Apprenticeships, Support and Knowledge) across London which provides all schools, colleges and other educational establishments free support to develop and transform how their students think about modern day apprenticeships.

Young people deserve to know about all opportunities open to them

Challenging perceptions of what it means to do an apprenticeship and where it can take you is a key part of the work that the ASK team do. The free, universal service allows us to help teachers, parents and students break through the myths of UK apprenticeships – primarily that they are low paid and only available in traditional trades -  and demonstrate the range and breadth of apprenticeships available, including at Higher and Degree level.

London, in particular has a large amount of apprenticeships available, with 2,000+ live apprenticeship opportunities waiting to be filled at any time, and a host of high-level well-paid corporate apprenticeship opportunities in the City and Canary Wharf. Yet, London has a lower than national level of take up of apprenticeships. The ASK programme is challenging this, one school at a time.

Our advice: keep your options open

The response to the ASK programme so far has been extremely positive, with many teachers, young people and their parents being genuinely surprised and enthusiastic about the scope of opportunity with modern day apprenticeships.

At a school in West London where an Apprenticeship Information Evening was recently held, the Year 13 room was described as ‘buzzing with conversations about apprenticeships,’ with many young people not realising that they can submit both a UCAS application and as many apprenticeship applications as they can manage.

We have been delivering careers advice and guidance to schools and colleges since 1996. Our track record includes using robust data. For the new apprenticeships, we target schools not currently taking up the offer, analyse the application rate of apprenticeships and provide quality labour market information to students about opportunities and trends.

Thoughts on apprenticeships from the apprentices

A key part of a thriving economy adding skills, ideas and diversity to the workforce. In their own words from the Amazing Apprenticeship website:

Basant Kaur Sehra, Apprentice at Troup Bywaters + Anders Engineering, said: “Some parents are concerned that an apprenticeship isn’t as good an option as studying full-time at University. I would say I was at an advantage by doing an apprenticeship rather than a disadvantage, as I am already 2 steps ahead of those at full time university. I am gaining first-hand knowledge from experienced engineers, working on live projects, learning about the professional environment and still getting my degree. The best advice I can give is to be proactive. You need to go out looking for and applying for apprenticeships, they won’t come to you!”
Akeem Graham, Media production apprentice, BBC: “In my opinion, apprenticeships compared to University is an accelerated way into your chosen profession. It grants you the industry experience that so many companies desire from their new employees to have. With experience behind you, the pressure to have excelled at school is reduced, allowing you to be assessed on your creativity, passion and hunger to succeed within your chosen field. Also, the opportunity to earn a salary whilst learning and getting qualifications without debt is a win-win.”


For further information on the ASK programme see  

If you would like to register your educational establishment for ASK support, please go to