Barriers to young people accessing intermediate and advanced apprenticeships: perspectives from apprenticeship providers

Suzanne Straw, Dr Lisa Morrison-Coulthard and Eleanor Bradley

18 May 2023

Technical Appendix

Intermediate and advanced apprenticeships continue to be a declining option for 16-19-year-olds entering the labour market. After strongly bouncing back post the pandemic, the latest official statistics indicate that the number of starts at these levels are still declining.

Young people continue to face a number of barriers to accessing apprenticeships both at the point of application and prior to starting, according to apprenticeship providers.

Building on our previous research in which NFER analysed data from the Department for Education’s (DfE) Find an Apprenticeship (FAA) service on apprenticeship starts and undertook interviews with 20 SMEs to explore their perceptions of young people’s barriers to accessing apprenticeships, this study provides insights from an NFER roundtable held in collaboration with Amazing Apprenticeships and the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP).

During the roundtable, apprenticeship providers discussed the barriers that young people aged 16-19 face in accessing intermediate and advanced apprenticeships and how these might be overcome. A number of key recommendations then arose from the roundtable. In addition, prior to the roundtable, providers were asked to answer a small number of questions both to inform the roundtable discussions and provide additional beneficial data and insights.

Key Findings

  • Although awareness has improved in recent years, young people often lack in-depth understanding of apprenticeships, including the different levels and progression opportunities, to make informed decisions. According to training providers, this was  perceived as most common barrier and results in young people not even getting to the point of applying for an apprenticeship.
  • Following this, other common barriers at the point of application include:
    • lack of job search skills and work readiness
    • not having expected levels in GCSE English and maths
    • poor wellbeing and mental health, including anxiety, lack of confidence and resilience
    • lack of affordability
    • lack of availability.