Careers advice for school-leavers is in a state of "crisis", with a "dangerous" lack of support for those interested in apprenticeships, according to a new report.
A survey of 600 apprentices found that fewer than one in 10 found out about their course through a teacher or careers adviser.
More than half of those questioned by the Industry Apprentice Council (IAC) said they used their own initiative to find out information, or were prompted by parents or friends.
Two out of five said careers advice they received in school or college was poor, with 7% revealing they had no guidance at all.
Julia Chippendale, managing director of EAL, an industry awarding organisation which established the IAC, said: "The survey is a testimony from the generation of young people which we need to lead us to a brighter, better, more productive future.
"The findings do present such a positive view as to the life of a modern-day apprentice - it is just a crying shame that so many were not given more support and information when they were making their career path choices.
"Government, industry and agencies are working extremely hard to ensure that this country has the right flow of skilled people to create growth in the economy. Now we must ensure that the message is delivered to the very people that need to hear it - school pupils."
Drew Reidy, a BAE Systems apprentice, and member of the IAC, added: "Plans to boost apprenticeship numbers in the UK should start with addressing the woefully inadequate careers information, advice and guidance available to school pupils."
Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock said: "Careers advice has long been not good enough, so we are strengthening the duty on schools to inspire, motivate, and mentor young people to fulfil their potential.
"A record number of people are applying for Apprenticeships, which are proving to be incredibly popular and we continue to drive up their quality and rigour, making sure they link directly to the needs of employers."