Search press releases

Advanced search options

Apprenticeships working to convince future leaders of their value as a career foundation

  • Apprenticeships face challenge -- most people surveyed do not view them as best starting point to reach senior position
  • University still viewed as ideal start to a successful career with greater earning potential
  • However, 90% of Centrica, owner of British Gas, apprentices feel better equipped for the world of work than friends who went to college or university
  • Centrica calls on career-seekers to consider apprenticeships and explore the ‘learner to leader’ journey they offer

Thousands of young people across Britain could be missing out on high-flying careers by dismissing apprenticeships, because they believe the training will not set them up for a leadership position, according to new research released today by Centrica, Britain’s largest energy and services company.

Two-thirds of people polled in the independent national survey* (66%) do not view apprenticeships as the best starting point to reaching a senior position in their career.  More than two fifths (44%) believe university is the best start they can get.

These misconceptions are in stark contrast to the experience of 1,200 apprentices who are training at the British Gas Learning Hubs operated by Centrica around the country. When surveyed, more than 95% said their apprenticeship sets them up for a successful future.

When asked about the most important aspects of a job at the start of a career, almost half said ‘good earning potential’ (49%) and ‘opportunities for progression to a senior role’ (47%). However, two-thirds (66%) believe that only a degree would allow them to achieve these things.

Internal data from Centrica shows that once qualified, gas engineering apprentices go on to earn £325,853 over a ten-year period. Furthermore, joining one of Centrica’s apprenticeship schemes could open up to twelve alternative career paths over the same period, providing diverse opportunities for apprentices to develop and progress in their chosen career.

Despite high quality apprenticeships on offer from employers such as Centrica, which provide a structured learning experience with industry qualifications built in, the majority of people surveyed (60%) had not considered an apprenticeship as a training option when they left school.  More than a fifth (22%) said they had not considered the option because it would not have enabled them to get the job of their choice.

It is not just the views of those considering apprenticeships that are affecting uptake; the research found parents’ views of the training hugely influential.

Seven in ten (68%) parents say they would be proud of their children if they were accepted onto a university course, compared to half as many (32%) who would feel the same if their child was accepted onto an apprenticeship scheme.

In fact, 10% of people said they did not consider an apprenticeship when they left school because it was frowned upon by parents or teachers.  In a survey that Centrica carried out among its own apprentices, nine in ten said they felt better equipped for the world of work than their friends who went to college or university.

Despite the negative perceptions of apprenticeships, four in five (84%) believe apprentices have a positive impact on a company’s performance. This is supported by Centrica’s own findings from its customer service apprenticeship pilot where productivity increased by 6% and the Net Promoter Score, which measures customer satisfaction, increased by twenty points.

Craige Heaney, Head of Learning and Development at Centrica, said: “It’s worrying that future leaders are limiting their options and not considering an apprenticeship as a route into an exciting and high-flying career.  We have several examples of people who started their career as a British Gas apprentice and now hold a leadership position.

“Over the past ten years we’ve invested more than £260m in training 6,000 engineers and apprentices, because we recognise the positive impact this has on both our customers and business performance. 

“By choosing to pursue a high quality apprenticeship that is developed by leading employers for apprentices of all ages, which also offer flexibility and transferable skills, the opportunities to reach to the top are limitless.”

National Apprenticeship Week begins today [Monday 6 March] and runs for five days, with events being staged at Centrica’s Learning Hubs to showcase what apprenticeships bring to businesses, individuals and the economy.

Skills Minister Robert Halfon said:  “Apprenticeships offer people of all backgrounds and all ages the chance to get their foot on the ladder of opportunity. The figures speak for themselves. Nine out of ten apprentices go on to work or further learning after they have completed an apprenticeship.

 “It is time for apprenticeships to stop being seen as a poor alternative to degrees – they are a worthwhile and equal path for young people to pursue. Higher and degree apprenticeships like this offer the highly skilled workforce needed for employers and learners to succeed.”

Notes to editors

For media information or to arrange an interview with Craige Heaney please contact:

Bieneosa Ebite on 01784 843 000,
Carrie MacWilliam on 0131 516 6970,
Sophie Maycock on 0161 235 0337,

Apprenticeships and training at Centrica:

  •  Centrica is training around 1,200 apprentices through six Learning Hubs in Leeds, Leicester, Thatcham, Dartford, Hamilton (Scotland) and Tredegar (South Wales), Humberside, Manchester, Edinburgh and Staines.
  • We provide a ‘best in class’ structured learning experience with industry qualifications built in.
  • Our apprenticeships offer transparency around career paths and are open to everyone.
  • Our apprentices are employed and earn a salary from day one.
  • Training goes beyond just the practical skills. We try to impart life skills through the inclusion of programmes like the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
  • Our engineering apprenticeships have a 93% achievement rate, which outperforms the national average by more than 25%.
  • During 2017 Centrica has committed to provide 300 training places to help young people not in education, employment or training as part of the Movement to Work Programme. Upon successful completion, participants can apply to join one of Centrica’s apprenticeship programmes.

The research was undertaken by Atomik Research between 10th-16th February 2017, on a sample of 3,542 UK respondents aged 18+ in accordance with MRS guidelines and regulations. Atomik Research is an independent creative market research agency that employees MRS certified researchers and abide to MRS code.

British Gas is Britain’s leading energy and services company, serving more than 10 million homes and over 400,000 businesses across the country. More than 8,000 highly-trained engineers guarantee the highest quality of service for our residential and business customers. We also provide a range of innovative offers and services including connected home Hive™ products, smart meters, and the online tradesman service, Local Heroes.

Share release