Know your tribe: the apprentices

Over two million students started or returned to uni this autumn. But around 750,000 Gen Z school leavers are currently receiving a paycheck and harnessing their spending power for the first time. If your youth marketing strategy doesn’t yet include apprentices, you might be missing a trick.

Apprenticeships explained 

Gen Z school leavers have considerably more options than they used to. While it’s easy to assume that all school leavers move straight into a job or head off to uni, there is a third way: the apprenticeship.

Young people on apprenticeships will have a blended experience, studying at college or university to get to grips with their career path, with the rest of their time spent working for an employer in the field they’ve chosen. And yep – that means that apprentices are earning their own wage from the start, acquiring no student debt in the process.

Contrary to popular beliefs, apprenticeships are available for more than just hairdressing and construction.

While previously apprenticeships were associated with a few core professions, such as construction and hairdressing, Gen Z now have a lot more options. The vocational career paths still exist alongside options within finance, law, marketing and healthcare, to name just a few. The top-level apprenticeships even come with a built-in degree, so a lot of apprentices find themselves getting the best of both worlds – experiencing student life and the working world.

How big is the UK apprenticeship market?

In 2019, there were 742,400 apprentices in England, across a huge range of sectors and locations. The most popular types of apprenticeship are business, law and administration; health, public service and care; retail; engineering, and construction. The number of students opting for the apprenticeship route grew by over 84,000 between 2017/18 and 2018/19. For brands looking to engage with all of Gen Z, it’s certainly a market to pay attention to.

Gen Z as apprentices

Apprenticeships certainly aren’t set to replace the traditional university pathway anytime soon – more so, they exist alongside uni as an option for Gen Z students with a different approach to learning.

Gen Z have been given a lot more apprenticeship options than previous generations, and they’re now a viable route for students from all sorts of academic backgrounds in a huge variety of professions. The ability to earn while learning without accruing student debt certainly appeals to this financially-savvy generation.

The apprentice tribe vs the student tribe 

An apprentice is likely to have slightly different needs and aims to a university student – but both demographics share certain Gen Z characteristics. They’re financially-savvy, ethics-led, and have a strong grounding in the digital world – and so much more. 

There are some key differences, though. Rather than moving to a new town or city to commence the next stage of their lives, apprentices are likely to still live at home or within private accommodation close to their new workplace. Students get most of their income via termly loan drops, but apprentices receive their income in the same way the working population does: weekly or monthly, depending on their workplace’s requirements.

Apprentices are more likely to be found nearer their family home, socialising with friends.

It’s worth noting that apprentices are heading into the workplace from the moment they start. Brands can support apprentices in this exciting time, offering discounts on things like officewear and accessories, as well as gym memberships and food and drink deals. Apprentices are paid at least minimum wage (often more), so they inherit their spending power early, but until they qualify they are likely to be paid slightly less than their colleagues. This means that while the apprentice market are geared up to spend their newly-acquired wages, they’ll appreciate student discount as much as their friends at uni.

How to verify apprentices 

Brands can verify the identities of apprentices in the same way that they verify students, using our unique verification service. Apprentices submit proof of student status, a student card, course acceptance letter, or proof of where they are studying, and we’ll do the rest. That way, you can ensure that all of your discounted purchases are from fully-verified apprentices, with the credentials to match.

From uni students to apprentices, we’ve been verifying students for 15 years. Request a demo today to learn more about student verification technology that you can trust.