What goes on in the mind of 16-18 year olds?

RateMyApprenticeship has almost 7000 live reviews from school leavers who are on, or have just finished, an apprenticeship or similar programme. As you can imagine, these reviews reveal some rather ‘juicy’ insights into the minds of these young people and can help you, and some of the top employers in the school leaver market, to answer the following questions:

  1. What do young people gain from completing an apprenticeship or school leaver programme?
  2. What are the best elements of their schemes? And what could be improved?
  3. Would school leavers recommend their schemes to peers?

As a little treat, we’ve decided to talk you through some of the common themes that arose from our reviews to help you bust some of the myths and perceptions of apprenticeships and other school leaver programmes, as well as looking at what school leavers can gain from choosing one of these options.

What do young people gain?

One of the questions our reviews ask young people is whether they’ve learnt or developed any new or existing skills during their scheme. We’ve found that this question scores very highly among young people with an average score of 8.70 out of 10 in the last year! When analysing reviewer’s answers there was a wide variety of skills mentioned, including not only the technical skills and qualifications relevant to their current role but also the transferable and soft skills they have gained.

16-18 year olds make up a generation known as ‘Generation Z’, a term you may well have heard a few times. Unlike their ‘millennial’ older siblings, studies suggest these young people are ‘risk averse, practical, and pragmatic’ and so understandably they place a lot of emphasis and value on the skills they learn from their apprenticeships, school leaver programmes, sponsored degrees, work experience and so on.

Another characteristic of Gen Z are that they are in favour of ‘career and financial stability’, so educating themselves, gaining relevant qualifications and transferable experiences is likely to be very important to them.

As a final point, it is commonly known that nowadays young people are less likely to stay in a role or with an organisation for the whole of their career, so doing something after school or college which does NOT limit them is also very important to this generation. Many of the reviewer’s answers described skills such as communication, confidence, networking, teamwork, and time management, which is great to see.

Simply having an understanding of how a business works and how to behave professionally in itself is an extremely important and competitive skill that our reviewers often gain and usually a few years in advance to their university-attending peers.

This is a great insight as young people are learning skills and gaining work experience which they can take with them into any future role, as well as transferable qualifications which can now take pupils all the way up to DEGREE level (take a look at Degree Apprenticeships here).

What needs improving for young people?

Looking next at the review question which saw the lowest average rating, this was our question: ‘How well organised/structured is your programme?’

A few factors contributing to this can be seen with the fact that the majority of our reviewers have started their scheme and career directly from school or college. As you know, they are used to having very routinely structured days whereby every hour is accounted for with lessons and breaks scheduled in daily.

Therefore, these candidates often need a lot more ‘handholding’ from their employers and training providers. From our reviews, we’ve found that this can stretch throughout the length of their programmes (often between 2-4 years), as candidates finish their programmes still only being around 20-22 years old. However, as mentioned earlier, the skills they learn throughout their schemes also help them to adapt to this change when they learn more about time management and prioritising work loads.

When helping young people consider all of their school leaver options, or when preparing them for an apprenticeship or similar programme, it is so important to manage their expectations and ‘let them know what they’re in for’.

Directing them to our reviews is a great resource. Whether they read reviews from people who have done the exact scheme, in the exact same company that they are interested in, or if they read reviews from people who work in a sector they are interested in or do a job they like the sound of, these real experiences from their peers can help them decide whether a role, industry or employer is suitable for them.

What IS improving for school leavers?

Perhaps surprisingly, the question from our reviews that we found had increased the most from 2015 (in terms of ‘average’ score) was the following question;

‘How well does your salary/package meet your costs?’

This is a great result for 16-18 year olds choosing to pursue an apprenticeship or similar programme as it shows that the traditional ‘low, minimum wage’ for these types of routes after school or college is starting to diminish.

Our review answers reveal that compared to last year, an overall increase of 5% was found in the average salary for schemes, which is a great move in the right direction! Also with the introduction of Degree Apprenticeships and more ‘higher’ level apprenticeships, has helped this question improve as salaries tend to be much higher (ranging anywhere between £14,000 and £30,000).

Another insight we’ve discovered about young people is that they are increasingly putting emphasis on building knowledge and actively seeking information, with studies suggesting they have more of a ‘smart=cool’ mindset. This is great for apprenticeships and similar programmes as if this truly is something Gen Z value, these types of schemes leave participants with a broad range of qualifications, information and experiences, which could suggest they are less concerned about the salary they are receiving in the short term.

Encouraging young people to see the long term benefits of completing an apprenticeship or similar scheme, whilst also offering a liveable and competitive salary is the key to getting high calibre candidates on board.

Would school leavers recommend their schemes?

This is a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question which we ask every reviewer at the end of their review. From this question, we found that a staggering 97% said they YES, they would recommend their scheme to a friend or peer! This really does help to back up the value young people place on completing an apprenticeship, school leaver programme, work experience or other type of programme, either as an alternative option to attending university or before attending (i.e. taking a gap year or gaining work experience).

We hope you’ve found this post useful and it has given you a bit of an insight into what young people are thinking when it comes to school leaver options!

Where to next? Well, if you’re looking for a great resource to help guide your children or students (or both!) through their options then take a little look at our 2016 digital School Leaver Guide here OR pre-order the 2017 guides here.