Minority of school leavers plan on taking up apprenticeships, study finds

Nick Murphy did what most kids did in grade 12 at his Brisbane school did: he applied for university.

"Our school is very big on university," he said.

"I just enrolled in a uni course and got an offer, but then when I thought about it I was like, 'oh, it's not for me'."

The 19-year-old is now a first-year apprentice as an electrician, which he said is a much better fit for him.

"Yeah, it's awesome, good fun," he said.

A recent survey by Apprenticeship Support Australia of young people aged between 15 and 25 found 53.5 per cent planned to go to university after school, while only 16.6 per cent planned to get an apprenticeship, traineeship, or take a vocational education course.

ASA managing director Darren Cocks said part of the problem was that schools are geared towards driving young people into university courses, despite the fact the biggest skills needs are in the traditional trades.

"I think it's got a lot to do with the expectation and perhaps the legacy of old, about where you can make money and what you should do," he said.

"As a community we need to be mindful we are not pushing any one career pathway ??? whether it's because of a lack of resources or a misguided belief that one tertiary system is better than the other ??? we need to encourage young people to find out what truly interests them and plays to their strengths.

"We need to find a balance, and what we've found from the survey is that whilst youth are doing OK, they're not thriving and probably because of particularly the cost of living."

ASA's Skillsroad 2017 Youth Census survey found after finances, difficulty finding an apprenticeship and the lack of jobs after university were some of the biggest concerns for youth.

"The survey also found parents were first people they turned to, and friends were second, teachers/career advisers third," Mr Cocks said.

Mr Murphy said when he realised a degree in business management was probably not for him, his father was a big help in deciding his next move.

"My dad has a few mates who were tradies ... I just had a few coffees with people like that," he said.

"It was good, they had a different view."

His advice to people finishing high school this year was to try to decide what to do earlier.

"Whatever you decide on, just go with it," he said.

Mr Cocks said for young people struggling to decide exactly what it was they wanted to do, Skillsroad have an online career quiz they can take that can help point them in the right direction.

"(It) allows students to answer a whole stack of questions and then come up with a bit of a profile as to what careers might be useful for them," he said.

"What we're seeing is we get about a 15 per cent increase in retention rate if they do this quiz and go on to do an apprenticeship or traineeship, which leads to better outcomes and less stress for them."

Mr Cocks said it could also be beneficial for parents to do the quiz for their children as well, which could lead to a "fun discussion" about the results.

For Mr Murphy, he said his father was supportive of his choice to start working as an apprentice.

"He was just happy with whatever I did," he said.

This story Minority of school leavers plan on taking up apprenticeships, study finds first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.