School Leaver Research 2023 - Summary Findings






The Cibyl survey of school-leavers is the largest of its kind in the UK. 11,720 students aged 13-to-18 from over 2,000 schools and colleges across the UK participated.

Three quarters of students surveyed plan to go to university. Only 10 per cent are interested in apprenticeships. For apprentice recruiters, this is a problem, a problem that deepens when we dig into the data.

Of the students considering apprenticeships, 80% say they are interested in higher or degree apprenticeships, up from 68% over the last three years. Interest in advanced or intermediate apprenticeships is falling, down from 32% to 20% over the same period. Good news for employers who offer higher or degree apprenticeships, but the majority of apprentice opportunities (69%) are at advanced or intermediate level.

Amongst all students, 25% say they want to work in the public sector. But for those looking at apprenticeships, the engineering (24%) and tech (24%) sectors dominate. Employers in the legal and energy sectors face a greater attraction challenge: among the less popular are law (10%) and energy/utilities (6%).

The top reason students choose an apprenticeship over university is to specialise in a desired career, followed by the wish to avoid student debt. The top three reasons students choose university are to study the subject they were interested in, to keep their options open, and the appeal of the university lifestyle.

Students looking at an apprenticeship are more likely to have greater career focus but the survey also highlights a lack of career information for students. Over a third of students said they don’t have enough information on apprenticeships. And students are leaving their career thinking till later. In 2020, 60% had decided their career plans before year 11; in 2023, 70% left plans to year 11 or later.

The survey also analyses who influences a student’s career decisions and where they get their career information from. Parents are still the strongest influencers, followed by teachers and careers advisors. Instagram and YouTube are the most popular social channels, followed by TikTok and LinkedIn.

For those who want to work with school and college students, Cibyl can bespoke data, by region, by demographics, by sector and employer of choice. For example, ‘undecided’ students tend to be the most open to apprenticeships. Males, Asian and low socio-economic students have higher rates of apprenticeship interest than average. Students in the Midlands and the North are most interested in apprenticeships and 42% of work-bound students want to stay near home. The three most popular employers are the NHS, BBC and Google.

Participant demographics: 90% studied in state schools,9% in the independent sector; 50% of respondents identified as female, 46% male and 4% as other; 19% took free school meals; 64% where White, 19% Asian and 7% Black.

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