What students really think about career planning, university and work?

We were delighted to attend the CASE Europe Annual Conference, where we co-hosted with Inspiring Futures a presentation on when students start making career-related decisions, how they make these decisions and why doing a degree is still their default option.

At Trendence UK, we look at the decision-making process students go through when thinking about their future. According to our survey of over 12,800 students across the UK, 52% of them start collecting information about different employers and career areas in Year 10 and Year 11 and 36% decide on a career in Year 12. However, by this time the majority would have already decided that they would like to go to university rather than start an apprenticeship. A staggering 31% made this decision in primary school. The reasons for starting a degree are manifold, but the most popular one being the strong belief that a university degree is the only path to a successful career. As a result, overall, more than 70% of students still choose to go to university. By contrast, less than 10% of students are determined to start an apprenticeship and the majority made their decision in Year 12. For the latter, earning money and not getting into debt are the most popular reasons for their choice.

What we've discovered is that students are a lot more informed about universities than about work-related opportunities. 76% of all students said that they received quite a lot or a reasonable amount of advice at school about universities, however, only 45% are satisfied with the advice they've received on apprenticeship... and an additional 16% haven't received any information at all. There is a general consensus that more advice on apprenticeships is more than welcome, with 44% of those that are not satisfied with the amount of advice received wanting to know more about alternative routes.

In terms of key influencers, when it comes to deciding on a university, students mainly turn to their parents or family. When they look for info on work-bound routes, careers-advisers are the most popular choice. It is thus not surprising that out of those decided to go to university, 77% would change their mind if offered the right incentives, with strongest one being the assurance that this decision will not affect their long-term career-prospects.

The results demonstrate that students see going to university as the default choice as they have not had the same amount of information on other routes to starting a successful career. University is currently seen as the only way to get the qualifications necessary for their career by 68% of school leavers. What we've also seen is enthusiasm regarding apprenticeships and alternative routes to qualifications: the most desirable at-school employer activity is offering work experience/placement (51%), closely followed by visits to employers or open days (48%).

This data is extracted from the annual Trendence UK School Leaver Survey where we ask students about their plans after leaving schools, sectors and employers of interest and how and when they make career-related decisions. Every year, we survey Year 8 to Year 13 students, from different backgrounds, across all UK regions.

Want to know more about how can we help you find and attract the most suitable students for your apprenticeships? Contact us: email@trendence.com