Apprenticeships campaign

Apprenticeships campaign2019-03-08T08:45:11+00:00

Good quality apprenticeships have the potential to be important vehicles for social mobility. With lifetime earnings on average better than many degree courses, apprenticeships offer the opportunity to ‘earn while you learn’, gain marketplace value skills and a foot on the career ladder.

Yet despite recent growth, there are fewer than 10,000 degree apprenticeship starts each year for young people compared to 330,000 new undergraduates. Disadvantaged young people are substantially less likely than their better off peers to take up the best apprenticeships, and for those who do choose an apprenticeship, they are likely to be working in a low quality setting with little career progression.

Read our summary blog looking back over the first year of the #BetterApprenticeships campaign.

Our aims

To harness apprenticeships as a driver of social mobility, the Institute for Apprenticeships and the apprenticeship levy should have a widening access function to ensure access to apprenticeships for those from less advantaged backgrounds. To maximise their impact all apprenticeships should have:

Our Research


Views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in our guest blogs belong solely to the author and/or organisation, and not to the Sutton Trust.


What the apprentices say

Jameel is a Sutton Trust alum and Level 4 finance apprentice at Network Rail

I never considered moving away from home and decided I would either commute from my parents’ house to university or for an apprenticeship. In the end, the cost of commuting to university and not earning a wage would have just been too much without extra support. The opportunity to ‘earn while you learn’ was the obvious option!

The application process for apprenticeships was tough. Compared to university, there were definitely extra steps however, although this was difficult, when I was offered the position, it felt like a huge achievement. I also feel more prepared for the tough interview processes that will no doubt come later in life, something I don’t think you get from the UCAS applications.

For disadvantaged students, access schemes are widely available, but unfortunately these may not necessarily be promoted by teachers. Programmes like the Sutton Trust, Pure Potential  and the EY Foundation  really helped me to make an informed decision when I left school and unless careers advice improves, they are the best option if you want to get a broader understanding of the different career paths available.

Read Jameel’s Sutton Trust story.

Apprenticeships were not encouraged by school; they focused on pushing students to go to full time university. I have always had strength in Maths and Physics and my dad suggested Engineering as a career. I was put off by studying full time due to the expensive tuition fees, so started looking at full time work or apprenticeships.

Before starting, I had never set foot on a building site however, four years on I am confident and have progressed in my role to managing a small team of engineers that were at the same level as when I started, all while working towards globally recognised qualifications.

Over the past four years I have worked on projects such as The Leadenhall Building (cheese grater), Clarges Estate development in Mayfair and more recently Brighton Hospital. Alongside working on site, I have been working towards a BSC in Civil engineering at South Bank University on day release.

I am extremely happy where I work and proud of the amazing work that my team and I contribute to!

Anna is completing a degree level engineering apprenticeship at Laing O’Rouke
Using online resources such as Get My First Job and 3aaa put me at ease, opening doors to career paths I never would have considered and providing invaluable support for me during the apprenticeship hunt! Without their guidance I wouldn’t have landed the apprenticeship I have right now.

Sydney is a level 4 Digital Marketing apprentice at Excel with business.

The common misconception of apprenticeships is that you will end up in a low skilled role with unrecognised qualifications – this isn’t true! There are a huge array of apprenticeships available and most offer qualifications held in equal esteem to a university degree…

Jack M is a Sutton Trust alum completing a level 3 finance apprenticeship at Sage. Read Jack’s Sutton Trust story.

Since starting my apprenticeship my confidence has grown massively. I have learnt about office culture, gained professional communication skills and I understand the discipline involved in having a full-time job – life skills that will support me throughout my career.

Chloe is a Sutton Trust alum completing a Level 3 legal apprenticeship at Hill Dickinson. Read Chloe’s Sutton Trust story.

One of the best experiences I have had during my apprenticeship is being recognised as a qualified lawyer in my own right and seeing my hard work and studies pay off. Having letters after my name demonstrates how I can assist others and boosts my employability. 

Jack A is a Sutton Trust alum completing a Level 6 legal apprenticeship at Bookers & Bolton. Read Jack’s Sutton Trust story.

Take action

Follow our progress and support us on social media using the hashtag #betterapprenticeships

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