An overview of apprenticeship trends – dispelling the myths

An overview of apprenticeship trends – dispelling the myths




Often seen as sort of a middle ground between education and employment, apprenticeships are one of the most cost-effective ways to develop your workforce. As a leading provider of apprenticeships Aspire helps primary and secondary schools discover enthusiastic, qualified and committed apprentices to help develop school workforces. The ultimate goal of the apprenticeship programme is to enhance children’s health, well-being and combat physical inactivity.

Despite them being around for more than twenty years, apprenticeships are still largely shrouded in mystery or rather, misconceptions. When asked about apprentices, most people falsely assume that apprentices are all young, inexperienced and under-skilled. In turn, this breeds myths such as that apprenticeships are generally low-paid and apprentices are poorly treated.

A look at the data, however, quickly dispels most of these myths. It’s true that the percentage of apprentices in the 25+ category in 2002/2003 was near zero, but this was almost 16 years ago. In the 2016/2017 academic year, people aged 25 and over made for over 46% of all apprentices. The other age groups account for a smaller percentage – only 29% of apprentices were aged 19-24, and barely 25% were 19 years or younger. The age trend has seen a steady increase over the past few years, with the percentage of apprentices over 25 years rising to 47% in the previous academic year.

It’s true that apprenticeships often serve as a stepping stone between education and full-time employment but this does, by no means, translate into apprentices being lowly-qualified or under-skilled. In fact, the data suggests that over 53% of the apprentices started at an intermediate level, and a further 47% were already at an advanced or higher level when they began their apprenticeships. The majority of people who take part in the mentoring programs tend to already have the equivalent of levels 2 and 3 qualifications, and over half are at advanced or higher levels.

By tapping into this resource, employees hiring apprentices can not only develop people who already have qualifications and education but can develop a workforce with only a fraction of the money they would normally spend on full-time employees. Hiring an apprentice thus means not getting someone with less experience but rather, someone who already has employment and education history but can help you develop your workforce on a budget.

In fact, over 20% of organisations Aspire partners with use their Levy for their existing workforce and develop them through apprenticeship programmes. Experts predict this number to rise substantially with the next year’s cohort as more and more employers realise the huge benefits apprentices can bring to their organisation.

Apprenticeships have been holding steady for over 20 years, though one thing that still hinders their wide-spread adoption is the misconceptions about their nature. Many people still falsely equate apprenticeships with things such as manual labour, plumbing or engineering. In reality, however, one of the fastest growing apprenticeship sectors is education, with schools seeing a 125% increase in apprentices since 2011. The programmes are a fantastic stepping stone for people, looking for more professional development, and offer various routes for career growth.

Education may still lag behind other apprenticeship sectors but its rapid growth means more and more employees are looking to break the mould. Head Teachers, Business Managers and Governors are beginning to see employing apprentices as a cost-effective way to have a sustainable impact on their pupils’ health and well-being. However, there’s still a long way ahead as schools continue to struggle to realise the full potential of apprenticeships and see the complete benefits this training route can offer to their pupils and workforce.

Aspire currently supports 60 apprentices across the education sector and has one of the highest completion rates in the country (83% compared to the national average of only 67%). Our mission is to spread awareness of the benefits of apprenticeship training and encourage primary and secondary schools to develop their workforce and enhance children’s development.

To learn more about utilising apprenticeships, we are welcoming Head Teachers, Business Managers and Governors to attend one of our FREE workshops being staged in:


Worcester - Pershore High School WR10 2BX

  • Tuesday 27th November 2018 - 2pm - 4pm
  • Thursday 29th November 2018 - 8am - 10am

Limited to 20 places per session, to pre-register CLICK HERE.


Wolverhampton - St Jude’s C of E Primary Academy WV6 0DT

  • Wednesday 28th November 2018 - 2pm - 4pm
  • Friday 30th November 2018 - 8am - 10am 

Limited to 14 place per session, to pre-register CLICK HERE.


Pre-register for our free workshops today to see how you can develop your school workforce and have a positive impact on pupils health and well-being through apprenticeship training.