Young people’s perceptions and attitudes of their post-16 options

Partnership for Young Londoners

Partnerships for Young London have launched their latest research into Young people's perceptions of post-16 options. With many reports on the future workforce, skills needs and 'the Brexit effect' what do young people think are their options and what do they think of these options.

This research was conducted in 6 focus groups with young people aged 14 - 25 from across London with a mix of backgrounds. Participants were asked about the influences on their decision making, perceptions of context and their perceptions of post 16 options.

Key findings:

Perceptions of post-16 options

  • Apprenticeships are still viewed a second choice option, with participants seeing them as a ‘Plan C’, providing less opportunity, respect, and flexibility.
  • Apprentices are more stereotyped than university students, negatively seen as ‘school leavers’ or as someone who ‘can’t do college’.
  • University, unlike apprenticeships, has a strong lifestyle appeal participants have clear positive perceptions about university student life, from independence to societies, which is absent from apprenticeships.
  • Apprenticeships are viewed as more for males under 18, a reflection on the perception that apprenticeships provide skills for male dominated sectors such as construction and plumbing.
  • There is little to no understanding of traineeships, with not a single participant being able to describe what one would entail.

Influences on decision making

  • Families are a source of direct pressure to go to university, with cultural and racial identity and attitudes towards education being significant.
  • Peers and the media can be an indirect in uence on decision making, serving as examples, and positioning university as the social norm.
  • Schools are more focused on students going to university, with very few participants being told about apprenticeships.
  • Careers advice is failing to prepare young people, who lack respect for the information gained, and are unpre- pared with making decisions.


Perceptions of context

  • London is a very competitive city of opportunity, where there are always jobs available, but there are many challenges, both in the labor market, and in terms of cost of living.
  • Perceptions of Brexit remain largely negative, with young people believing that it will make it harder to get employment, though there is uncertainty exactly how it will.

Whilst this is a small sample and focused on London it confounds the fears that many have had for a long time not just around the perceptions of apprentices but more importantly the inconsistency on careers support and messaging around post 16 options.

We have very recently launched a careers hub, free to access this hub allows young people to explore careers in an impartial manner. We are also supporters of EY's latest #ParentalAdvice campaign, recognising that parents are one of the biggest influences in young peoples decision making processes and yet many aren't sure the information they give is up to date.

Next steps:

  • If you are considering your next steps aren't sure which way to turn please visit our youth hub
  • Read more about the EY #ParentalAdvice campaign here
  • Read the full report from Partnership for Young London here

Further Information

Find out more about this topic by calling us on 01536 680916
or emailing us at

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