7 September 2023

Five Apprenticeship Myths Debunked for Parents

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Are you concerned about your child doing an apprenticeship? Think apprenticeships are for people who didn’t do well in school? Perhaps you’re unsure how an apprenticeship will improve their career prospects?

It’s time to shake the stigma attached to apprenticeships…Whilst university remains a sought-after route for school and college leavers, the rising cost of university tuition fees have caused many to reconsider their options.

This explains why more and more young people are turning towards apprenticeships. An apprenticeship is a chance to learn from the best, develop essential soft skills and gain industry-specific qualifications – all while being paid.

Today, they are recognised as a springboard to success, not a safety net for those who don’t achieve academically. In this comprehensive myth-buster, we outline FIVE of the most common misconceptions about apprenticeships – and then put them to bed.

MYTH #1   Apprenticeships are for underachievers and school dropouts

REALITY    More and more A-grade students are choosing to do apprenticeships

With hundreds of top employers who offer sought-after graduate schemes now offering apprenticeships, many career-driven students are skipping university to go straight into work.

Take Rachel. Rachel turned down an offer from Exeter to study Mathematics and withdrew her application from Oxford University to do a Technology Degree Apprenticeship at J.P. Morgan.

Choosing an apprenticeship over university means I don’t have any student debt. I’m paid £17,000 a year; it goes up after 15 months, and then annually after that. And that’s not even the best part – for every apprentice at JP Morgan, there’s a job waiting for them at the end.“

An apprenticeship is an excellent opportunity for students who prefer a hands-on approach to learning, and for those who are keen to get on the career ladder and start earning. Because the rewards are so great, competition for higher apprenticeships is tough.

MYTH #2   Apprentices are financially worse off than graduates

REALITY    An apprenticeship is a debt-free path to success

Each scheme offers school and college leavers the chance to kick-start their career, without the debt incurred by going to university.

All apprentices are paid at least the National Minimum Wage of £5.28 an hour, with many companies paying more in order to attract the best candidates.


For instance, the average salary for an apprentice in banking and finance is £20,218 per year. Like all jobs, this is subject to increase based on their performance.

In fact, research shows that there is the potential for higher level apprentices to earn £50,000 more throughout their careers than other employees. 

If your child wants to do a degree, but you’re worried about the financial strain of university, they can opt to do a degree level apprenticeship

The government pays two-thirds of a degree apprentice’s tuition fees while the employer covers the rest. Rather than leaving university with an average debt of £50,000, they’ll start on an average salary of £18,860 per year and graduate with zero debt. 

MYTH #3  Apprenticeships limit your future career prospects

REALITY    An apprenticeship opens many doors

Concerned that your son or daughter will be trapped in the same career for life if they start an apprenticeship? Have you thought about why this is any different to doing a specialised degree in dentistry? Or architecture? Or equestrian psychology?

The truth is, whether your child ends up at university or in an apprenticeship, the soft skills they gain will apply to almost any career they put their mind to. These include time management, teamwork, leadership, problem-solving and negotiating.

Apprentices also work towards qualifications that are recognised nationally by both employers and higher education institutions. With these on their CV, they can progress to a higher level apprenticeship, apply themselves to a completely new career or even go to university. 

Employers love candidates who show enthusiasm for the industry from a young age. Simply by choosing an apprenticeship, your child displays a go-getting attitude and a lot of ambition; something that will help them go far whatever their career direction.

Are you a parent? Head over to our ParentsHub, a dedicated space full of comprehensive resources to support your child.

MYTH #4   An apprenticeship is not a proper job

REALITY    Apprentices are given real responsibility

Think apprentices are lumped with tedious tasks like making tea? Think again. Firstly, apprentices have to cover a wide range of tasks in order to successfully complete the programme.

Their employer is obliged to give them practical and relevant work that supports their professional development, ensuring they come out work-ready.

For employers, apprenticeships are also a way of bringing fresh talent into the company and training them their way. It is therefore in their interest to ensure the skills their apprentices learn are the ones they need to succeed in the industry. 

It wouldn’t make sense to give them work that had little value to the business. Instead, apprentices work alongside experienced professionals on projects that have a real impact on the world around them. 

MYTH #5 Apprenticeships are limited to trade industries

REALITY    Schemes are now available in a wide range of sectors

Traditionally associated with industries like construction, electrical and plumbing, apprenticeships are often overlooked in favour of further education.

However, young people today can choose to do an apprenticeship in almost anything, including aerospace engineering, banking, law, digital marketing, teaching and fashion.

There are some pretty zany apprenticeships out there too, such as brewing, paper making and beekeeping. The introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in 2017 has given employers of all sizes a huge incentive to unearth future talent amongst school and college leavers. 

As such, many of Britain’s biggest and brightest companies are now employing apprentices straight out of school. For instance, did you know that Barclays, Network Rail and PwC all offer apprenticeships? 

Best Student Employers

Based on over 40,000 reviews from those who have completed apprenticeships themselves, our Best 100 Employers 2022-23 showcases the best employers in the UK for apprenticeships.

Whilst university is a brilliant option for some, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Nor does it guarantee your child will land their dream job.

An apprenticeship is a viable alternative that could see your child reaching their career goals much sooner than you think. For any unanswered questions about how apprenticeships work, have a read of our comprehensive parents’ guide to apprenticeships.

Heard of these apprenticeship myths? Let’s get them debunked!