September 20, 2021

More than a third of 16- to 21-year-olds less likely to choose a university education in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic

Leading UK housebuilder Redrow today launches its annual report on attitudes toward apprenticeships and careers in construction. It reveals that more than a third (37%) of young people surveyed say that the pandemic has decreased the likelihood of them choosing university in the future.

Now in its fifth year, the report from Redrow analyses the barriers to entry-level recruitment into the construction and the housebuilding sector. Redrow once again canvassed 2,000 parents and young people, as well as over 100 of its apprentices, and benchmarked the findings against previous years. This year, amidst the global Coronavirus pandemic, Redrow also investigated the impact Coronavirus has had on plans to embark on further education.

The results reveal that more than a third (36%) of young people are concerned about their job prospects since the onset of the pandemic, and routes that combine working and education have a greater appeal, with 42% of respondents more likely to pursue on the job learning such as an apprenticeship. This was felt most significantly among young adults in London where 57% of respondents reported being more likely to pursue on the job learning.

Careers advice at school

With less time spent in school, the proportion of young adults who have had information on apprenticeships outlined to them via school resources dropped from 63% in 2018 to 57% in 2021, to reach a four-year low. At the same time, the percentage who say their advice was entirely not useful, or non-existent, has increased to a five-year high.

As a result, the majority of Redrow’s own apprentices found out about the roles at Redrow via friends or family (44%), up from 38% last year. In fact, the majority (67%) stated that they believe that schools do not promote apprenticeships in the same way they do other educational routes.

Gender stereotypes are also still present when encouraging and informing young people on construction careers. Only 33% of female respondents had discussed construction careers at school compared to 46% of young males.

Graph 1: Has anyone at school outlined information to you on apprenticeships; how they work and their benefits?

Parental influence

Lockdowns have provided a unique opportunity for many parents and older children to reconnect and evaluate priorities. With more time spent together, the influence of parents is stronger than ever.

However, research shows that preconceived notions about careers in construction are still held among a significant number of parents. Almost 1 in 5 (17%) believe that a career in construction does not require any qualifications beyond GCSEs. This is a negative decrease of 7-percentage points since 2017. As a result, 1 in 10 (11%) would still actively discourage their child from pursuing a career in construction.

Despite this, parents’ views of apprenticeships are more promising. The majority (69%) say that they have discussed the prospect of their child undertaking an apprenticeship. This has increased from 65% in 2017. Parents in the East Midlands are the most likely to have spoken with their child about undertaking an apprenticeship (78% vs a national average of 69%).

18 year old Molly Gunney is following in her Mum’s footsteps as an apprentice sales consultant with Redrow. Having completed her A levels at St David’s College in Cardiff in June 2020, Molly was offered a two-year apprenticeship with Redrow in September. She now works alongside Mum Emma who first joined Redrow in 2003 and was recently named Sales Consultant of the Year in South Wales.

Molly says that she is really proud to be working alongside her Mum as part of the Redrow team. She said: “Mum has always worked in property and I’ve loved hearing her about her job as I’ve grown up. I’ve got a natural passion for houses and for people so the opportunity to join Redrow was a dream come true for me. I know that both Mum and Dad are very proud of me and I’m really enjoying getting to learn all about the sales process and spending time helping our customers.

“My apprenticeship means that I’ll experience all aspects of sales and customer service. As a five star builder, Redrow has a great reputation and I know that I’m learning from the very best in the industry.”

Karen Jones, HR Director at Redrow, commented, “The past 12months have seen the nation rocked by the Coronavirus pandemic, and the shockwaves are still being felt. Unemployment has reached its highest level in five years and six out of 10 employers stopped all new apprenticeships with immediate effect in April 2020. As a result, apprenticeships starts are down 18% on the year before[1].

“But as success from the vaccine rollout and lockdown restrictions clear the way for a roadmap for a gradual re-opening of UK PLC, businesses can now start thinking about a positive and productive future. It is vital that young people can play a vital part in ‘building back better’, and apprenticeships will be critical in tackling the skills gap and helping power the UK’s economic recovery, as well as delivering much-needed homes and infrastructure.

“Educational routes that combine learning and earning will have an even greater appeal following this long period of social distancing we’ve experienced, and a more competitive jobs market. We believe that today’s changing landscape offers a real opportunity to innovate the way that in which we attract young people into apprenticeships. To help elevate apprenticeships as an option for young people, we must first address the more negative attitudes held by some teachers and parents, while highlighting the benefits to young people nationwide.”

With its head office based in Ewloe, more than 15% of Redrow’s employees are either apprentices, graduates, or trainees. Redrow currently have 19 apprentices in Wales, in a variety of job roles including construction, business administration, customer relations and sales.

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