Many school leavers in Scotland are being put off joining apprenticeship programmes due to widespread misconceptions about pay and qualifications, a study suggests.
Figures showed one in 10 of those asked said they thought apprenticeships offered no recognised qualification while 87% underestimated salary.
One in three said information about opportunities at their school or college was poor or non-existent, according to the research.
Stirling-based insurer Prudential, which carried out the study, has announced the launch of its 2016 apprenticeship programme, which will create opportunities for up to 40 young people who will be paid the living wage.
It questioned 16 to 18-year-olds who have decided against an apprenticeship to understand more about their choices and found that more than a third (36%) selected other options due to the perceived level of qualification available.
The findings have been published at the start of Scottish Apprenticeship Week.
They revealed a slightly lower number – 31% – felt that going to university would make them more employable than completing an apprenticeship and 20% said it was because their parents did not see an apprenticeship as a viable option.
Despite this, more than 25,000 modern apprentices started training in 2014/15, exceeding the Scottish Government’s target.
Cathy Lewis, executive director of corporate services at Prudential, said: “The pendulum is beginning to swing back towards apprenticeships, with university and college no longer the default options for many school leavers.
“As familiarity improves we are seeing a new generation gradually rediscover the value of apprenticeships, helped by the increasing availability of schemes across a wide range of industries and sectors.
“However, our research shows that perceptions of older style schemes linger, not reflecting the reality for today’s apprentices, who have access to invaluable training and experience and recognised qualifications, while earning a wage.”
The study comes as another survey from Scottish Gas revealed many people who want to change careers miss out on opportunities because they view apprenticeships as being just for young school leavers.
It found 44% of the 1,071 people asked said they would not consider an apprenticeship as a route to a new career and almost a quarter thought they were too old.
The research showed only 3% thought you could undertake an apprenticeship in your 30s but the company said almost a third of current Scottish Gas apprentices are over the age of 30.
John Lochrie, former Scottish Gas apprentice and now operations director for HomeCare Services, 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 mum wanting to earn while she learns, or someone looking to retrain for a new career later in life.
“People in Scotland may be limiting their options and not exploring an apprenticeship as a legitimate career route.
“I’d encourage people to shake off the old stereotypes and consider undertaking a modern apprenticeship no matter how old they are.”