Despite the number of new apprentices started in Britain falling last year, new research coinciding with National Apprenticeship Week last week found that attitudes towards apprenticeship programmes are becoming more positive.

Apprenticeship starts for the first quarter of the 2017/18 academic year decreased by 26.5%, compared to figures reported at this time in 2016/17.

Encouragingly, the Generation Apprentice report from business and financial adviser Grant Thornton UK LLP suggests there is an ongoing evolution in the way apprenticeships are viewed, with more employers, young people and parents recognising apprenticeship programmes as a valuable route in to a successful career.

The report, which surveyed 1,000 young people (aged 16-25) and 1,000 parents (of under 18s), revealed:

n 77% of young people and 79% of parents think that apprenticeships offer good career prospects;

n Almost half (42%) think apprenticeships and university degrees have the same value;

n 45% of parents think a degree delivers less value than it used to;

n Two thirds (60%) of young people think they do not need to go to university to get a well-paid job;

n Half (51%) of the young respondents who are currently at university do not believe their degree guarantees them a well-paid job.

The report also investigated the attitudes of 500 UK employers that qualify for the Apprenticeship Levy (those with a pay bill of more than £3m). The findings, developed in partnership with City & Guilds, showed a similarly positive sentiment about hiring apprentices.

Tim Lincoln, practice lead for Bristol, Grant Thornton UK LLP, said: “This changing attitude represents an evolution in the expectations of young people and parents when it comes to learning beyond school. Add in high uni tuition fees and rising living costs and it becomes clear why those looking at higher education options are increasingly seeing apprenticeships and other earn as you learn routes, as a positive route in to a successful career.”