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Career changers lose out by dismissing apprenticeships

  • Majority of people surveyed mistakenly believe apprenticeships are just for school leavers
  • More than two fifths would not consider an apprenticeship as a route to a new career
  • The survey shows age is a perceived barrier -- almost a quarter think they are too old
  • In fact, almost a third of  current British Gas apprentices is aged over 30

Millions of discontented workers across Britain, looking to change careers, could be limiting their options by assuming that apprenticeships are just for school leavers, according to new research released today by British Gas. 

The independent national survey* by British Gas to mark the start of National Apprenticeship Week reveals that 44% of people in the UK would not even consider an apprenticeship as a route to beginning a new career. Almost a quarter (23%) believe they are too old.

Only 3% of people in the survey thought you could undertake an apprenticeship in your 30s. In fact, almost a third of current British Gas apprentices are over that age.

Whilst the research highlights misconceptions over who can apply for an apprenticeship, it is clear that people recognise the value of this kind of training. Almost a fifth (19%) of people said that if they had their time again they would definitely do an apprenticeship, whilst a further 32% said they would seriously consider it.

Almost three quarters (73%) of those surveyed acknowledged that an apprenticeship was a great way to start a successful career. 84% of those surveyed appreciated that the main benefit of doing an apprenticeship was learning new skills. More than half (54%) highlighted that the main plus point was learning by doing, rather than from a book. 

National Apprenticeship Week begins today [Mon 14 March] - five days of events being staged around the country to showcase what modern apprenticeships bring to businesses, individuals and the economy.

Matthew Bateman, Managing Director for Residential Services at British Gas, said:

“It’s clear from our research that while many people see the value in apprenticeships, they don’t necessarily realise that the training is suitable for everyone of working age – whether that’s a teenage school leaver, a  parent wanting to earn while they learn, or someone looking to retrain for a new career later in life.

“People across Britain may be limiting their options and not exploring an apprenticeship as an exciting career route. 

“At British Gas, we’re striving to be an inclusive employer and our apprentices come from all walks of life. Almost a third of them are over the age of 30, and many are career-changers. I’d encourage people to consider undertaking a high-quality apprenticeship no matter what stage of life they’re at.”

British Gas has hundreds of apprentices in training across its six academies in Hamilton, Leeds, Leicester, Thatcham, Dartford and Tredegar, investing around £30,000 for each apprentice it trains. The business also has a 95 per cent retention rate for apprentices and is rated as ’Outstanding’ by Ofsted.

Notes to editors


Sandie Bush

British Gas apprentice, Sandie Bush, 38, decided to finally swap a desk job for her dream job working in engineering last year. 

The mother-of-two from worked at the British Gas contact centre in Leicester for 13 years but always felt her passion was to do a practical hands-on job. 

Now into her third career, she previously worked as an archaeologist for three years, working on excavation sites across the country, but never felt satisfied that it was the right career route for her. 

Since joining British Gas, Sandie had always been interested in becoming an engineer. She said: "I always wanted to do something that I could feel proud of and see the immediate results of my work- that’s why engineering appealed so much to me.  

“When my two children started school, I felt it was the perfect opportunity for me to rethink what I wanted to do as a career and make that change.

“I’ve found the apprenticeship scheme challenging and interesting but also so rewarding. I enjoy learning the theory just as much as the practical side of the course.

“Despite any reservations I had about retraining later in life, I’ve been made to feel very welcome and have the complete support of all the tutors as well as the apprentices. I’ve made some great friends along the way too.” 

Sandie is currently completing her apprenticeship at the British Gas Academy in Leicester, just minutes away from her home, making it easy for her to balance life at work and home.

She said: “I’ve enjoyed every minute so far. I didn’t think with all my family commitments that I would be able to start a new career at this stage of my life. I’ve been very lucky to get the chance to follow my passion in engineering.

“It’s easy to get caught up in the demands of everyday life but the rewards that come with doing a job you actually enjoy are priceless.”

Notes to Editors:

About British Gas

  • British Gas is currently training hundreds apprentices across the UK and receives approximately 30 applications per engineering apprenticeship.
  • British Gas is regarded as a premier provider of apprentices and its academies have an Ofsted judgement of ‘Outstanding’ in this sector.
  • The company invests around £30,000 for each apprentice it trains.



*The survey was conducted among 4,000 people across the UK, 2208 female and 1792 male. The interviews were conducted by Morar Consulting in January & February 2016.


For more information contact:

Bieneosa Ebite
British Gas

British Gas is Britain’s leading energy supplier, and serves around 11 million homes in Britain – nearly half the country’s homes – as well as providing energy to around half a million British businesses. British Gas provides value for money, dedicated customer service, innovative energy solutions and the highest quality Homes Services expertise in the country. Find out more at

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