It's Time To Shout About Apprenticeships

Posted in The Industry on October 09, 2017


The new university term has started with student numbers higher than last year. Despite all the bad publicity about course fees and soaring student debt, the vast majority of young people entering further education are still choosing to follow a 'conventional' academic route.

According to a new survey carried out by the pollsters YouGov, this trend is set to continue because just 8% of students aged 15 to 18 in school or college last year were advised to seek a work-based apprenticeship. That is just one in every 12.

In contrast, 85% were encouraged to go into further or higher education, such as university study, and just 3% were advised to seek a job, according to the survey of more than 1,000 students, which was commissioned by the Electrical Contractors' Association (ECA), the industry training organisation JTL, and the Joint Industry Board.

More than a quarter (28%) said they had never even had a conversation about work-based apprenticeships with anyone at their school or college. Just one in 14 students were encouraged to consider finding a job in a skilled trade, while three in 10 were pushed towards roles in medicine, education or finance.

It simply can't be right that such a high proportion are only suited to the traditional post-school academic route to a qualification. University is, clearly, the best option for many young people, but surely more than 1 in 12 would do better by following a vocational or work-based course.

Scrutiny
Tuition fees of £9,250 a year are putting traditional university degrees under greater scrutiny with more young people questioning whether they offer value for money. Yet, it seems that many don't think they have an alternative.

Another study – this one by the student research organisation Trendence UK – found that only 18% of students felt they had been given enough information to make a decision about whether or not to take an apprenticeship – and 55% said the information they received at school about vocational training options amounted to 'not much' or 'none at all'.

Yet, there is a rising tide of interest in apprenticeships with 77% of those opting for a conventional university education saying they would change their mind if offered the right incentives.

The incentive for taking an Apprenticeship is the opportunity to work towards a useful trade with good career prospects – while also avoiding racking up debts of well over £40,000. Also, the flexibility now exists in the system to take a degree as part of your apprenticeship if you wish.

More of our top independent schools are pushing pupils towards vocational qualifications with the number taking Btecs instead of A levels doubling in the past four years. School leavers can go straight into employment via apprenticeships, but still retain the option to take a degree at a later date and as part of their vocational training because the new apprenticeship system now offers that flexibility.

Teachers, careers advisers and parents need to understand that a vocational apprenticeship is not in any way an inferior route – in fact, the new flexibility means it would be the most appropriate for many young people to work towards a happy, prosperous and successful future.

Times have changed and advisers need to get that message out there – otherwise they are depriving thousands of young people of a satisfying and rewarding career – and further adding to the burden of companies in technical professions struggling to plug their skills gaps.


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