Apprenticeships are outstripping university as a prestigious route into careers, new polling shows.

Opinium research commissioned by Multiverse assessed the public’s attitudes to university and technical education.

The research found that:

  • Two fifths (41%) think that an apprenticeship is better for preparing young people for work, compared to 17% who say a degree is better preparation
  • 67% would consider an apprenticeship over going to university if they were a young person today
  • The strength of apprenticeships is on the rise, with 66% of respondents saying apprenticeships have grown in value, and 56% say they have grown in prestige, in the last five years.

The polling coincides with recent growth in apprenticeship numbers, which increased 43% in the last reported quarter, to exceed pre-pandemic levels. The Department for Education reports there are currently more apprenticeship vacancies available across the UK than at any equivalent time since records began.

Euan Blair, founder and CEO, Multiverse, said:

"Apprenticeships are a rapidly growing route to get paid, earn a valuable qualification, and get a jump start on a great career - they’re growing particularly fast in digital and tech roles.
"Many of the world's best employers no longer require degrees at all and that people are increasingly getting wise to the full range of opportunities to develop skills and access careers can only be a good thing.
"For employers apprenticeships are the best and most direct way to get access to highly talented people from a diverse range of backgrounds, trained in the skills they need."

The polling reveals there is more work to be done however to reach Generation Z. While 75% of respondents felt comfortable describing what an apprenticeship was, this fell to 64% amongst Gen Z respondents, the lowest of any age group polled.

"You can see the difference in my confidence"

Keratuwe, 22, moved to the UK from South Africa for a gap year - but she stayed to study for a degree. After realising university wasn’t for her, she signed up for the Tech Talent Accelerator run by Multiverse and Generation - and went on to apply for an apprenticeship at Westminster City Council.

Now she is nearing the end of her Software Engineering apprenticeship at the council.

Keratuwe said:

"Looking at where I was last September to where I am now, it’s so different. You can see the difference in the quality of the work, my confidence, how I work with colleagues, and my own technical and people skills.
"I prefer the apprenticeship because it offers a different study method, instead of traditional schooling. Learning through an apprenticeship is not just constrained to just submitting an assignment and getting it marked. A lot more of it is on the job training. Learning how to programme, create applications, testing - but in the context in the workplace where you know that whatever you’re making is going to impact a broader community."

Read more of Keratuwe's story

National Apprenticeship Week

This week is National Apprenticeship Week: an annual celebration of apprenticeships across England.

It’s a chance to showcase the amazing opportunities that are available to you through professional apprenticeships, and learn more about the apprentice experience.

All week, we have an amazing line-up of events and content to share with you - and even a TikTok challenge for you to get involved in.

Read more about what to look out for during National Apprenticeship Week on our blog.