Last reviewed 24 November 2021

The majority of graduates (52%) say they would have considered doing an apprenticeship instead of a degree, according to a new report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

However, official figures show a long-term trend for a smaller proportion of apprenticeship starts going to young people, with a 36% decrease in young people under the age of 19 starting apprenticeships in 2020/21 compared with 2018/19.

The CIPD’s report, Youth employment in the UK in 2021, explores the extent to which young people understand and are prepared for the world of work — and their career satisfaction to date.

Over 2000 people aged 18 to 30 were surveyed by YouGov as part of the research with the full report (and a Scotland supplement) available at

It shows that, while just 1% of all young people surveyed received help and support to apply for an apprenticeship during their time at school, 59% received support from their school on their educational and academic options such as applying for university or college.

The CIPD also found that a mismatch between skills supply and demand means that graduates often end up in jobs which do not require a degree to do the role. It is therefore calling for careers advice in schools to give equal focus to vocational and academic routes into employment.

Senior skills advisor Lizzie Crowley said: “We need to do a better job of preparing young people for the world of work, so they can make an informed decision about what route is going to give them the best chance of having a long and fulfilling career”.

It is, she went on, crucial that young people receive effective careers advice at school so they are aware of the different career choices and routes open to them that meet their interests, strengths and aptitudes, as well as the needs of employers.

Comment by Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula

Employers should take into consideration the lack of experience and/or qualifications of younger workers when completing recruitment exercises and not automatically dismiss individuals who don’t fit the traditional job requirements.

Businesses may be losing out on ideal candidates because they don’t have the degree certificate typically associated with that role, despite them having relevant experience and increased motivation and desire to succeed than their older counterparts.

With widespread labour shortages negatively impacting businesses across the UK, many are missing a trick by disengaging with younger workers. Organisations can also benefit from offering work experience and internship programmes, to build long-term relationships and be involved in the shaping of young careers.