New research from Barclays Apprenticeships has today revealed that 61 per cent of young people in the UK applied to university on ‘autopilot’ as it was ingrained in them as the best option by their parents.

The study of 1,000 university students found that 60 per cent of students were worried their parents would be disappointed if they chose not to go to university, with 30 per cent citing it as a key reason for attending. Feeling like university was the only route to a good job (54 per cent) also ranked highly, as did a lack of information on other options (20 per cent), and following their friends (25 per cent).

Pressure to go to university was especially high amongst students whose parents were both university educated, with 96 per cent believing they were expected to go to university and 80 per cent fearing their parents disappointment if they didn’t attend.

Students value their parents’ advice (42 per cent) significantly more than that of teachers (12 per cent) or careers advisors (6 per cent) with the next biggest influence on their career choices being those who had been successful in their industry of interest (18 per cent).

Despite this, the study revealed that more than three quarters (76 per cent) of students hadn’t discussed alternative options such as apprenticeships with their parents or with their teachers (68 per cent).

This could be because parents are not aware of the wide variety of apprenticeships available to young people today, or the benefits they offer, like the ability earn and learn, and even get a degree or equivalent qualification –without the debt. 51 per cent per cent admitting they know very little to nothing about apprenticeships and only 8 per cent fully confident in their understanding.

Dads were found to be more confident discussing topics such as drugs, alcohol and football with their children than their education choices, whilst Mums were more comfortable discussing relationships than talking about career options with their kids.

This raises concerns that young people may be overlooking apprenticeships because of external pressures or guidance from key influencers in their lives. A worryingly high 85 per cent of students didn’t seriously consider any alternative routes to university when they left school, and 57 per cent of students worry that they did not consider all the further educational options available to them.

Apprenticeships are gaining increasing attention with the government’s recently introduced Apprenticeships Levy and former apprentices including Stella McCartney, David Beckham and Jamie Oliver. With this in mind, Barclays has committed to providing 800 apprenticeship roles in 2016.

Successful former apprentice Alan Titchmarsh said: “My working life began with an apprenticeship and I have always been grateful for the broad and practical grounding it gave me.  Apprenticeships are frequently undervalued; I rate them extremely highly.”

Mike Thompson, Head of Apprenticeships at Barclays said: “You no longer need to fund a degree at university to get a job; apprenticeships allow you to earn from day one whilst getting on-the-job training, jumpstarting your career without the debt.

“Going to university to study for a degree will always be a popular option, however many young people and their parents aren’t aware of the benefits alternative routes such as apprenticeships can offer and will often see them as a back-up option.

“At Barclays we know that talent can come from anywhere – rather than focusing on qualifications and experience, we look for candidates who show real potential.”

Barclays Degree Apprenticeship programme is designed so participants can learn, earn, and get a degree or equivalent qualification without the debt.