SAFARZ Ali, Co-founder and CEO of Skills and employability Provider Pathway Group, hopes that top level support for apprenticeships from the new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and King Charles will further encourage everyone .
Mr Ali, who is a leading champion of apprenticeships, believes that their endorsement by the Prime Minister and King could be just the thing to give this ‘earn as you learn’ route into careers a lift.
Founder of the Multicultural Apprenticeship Awards, the Multicultural Apprenticeships Alliance and the Festival of Apprenticeships and Mr Ali was talking after King Charles spoke out for apprenticeships and vocational training in a special episode of the BBC’s Repair Shop, recorded before he became King in September.
‘Not everybody is designed for the academic.” he told presenter Jay Blades.
King Charles praised the value of technical skills and apprenticeships and described the lack of vocational training as a ‘tragedy.”
He spoke of his admiration for people with technical skills and had seen how they can transform lives.
“Apprenticeships are vital, but they just abandoned apprenticeships for some reason,” he added.
In an interview during the Conservative party leadership election hustings, in the summer, Mr Sunak expressed his enthusiasm for apprenticeships.
“I am strongly supportive of apprenticeships because I think young people should have multiple opportunities to get a fulfilling career and university is not the right answer for everybody and I would be concerned if they don’t earn enough to pay back the money,” Mr Sunak said.
“That does not work for anybody. It doesn’t work for them. It doesn’t work for the taxpayer. So, what I would rather do is have lots of high quality options for people to choose from.”
The now Prime Minister said that there needed to be greater awareness of the broad range of apprenticeships available and that they can be taken at degree level.
“So, if people start to recognise all of that and we give it the rocket boosters that they need, I think we can provide a brilliant route for people,” Mr Sunak added.
He called for a UCAS equivalent for apprenticeships and the end of a situation in schools where people looking to become apprentices are too often seen as ‘second class citizens.’
“We have to change that and there should be an equivalent for apprenticeships to make sure people feel that it’s an equally prestigious and valuable option.”
Mr Ali said the high-level support is always welcome and he hopes people will not just sit up and take notice but further put in place practical measures and support that works.
“High level and government support for Apprenticeships has always been there to be fair– however what has been missing in some cases is the ground level and practical level activity. Everybody is positive about Apprenticeships and in a way, they have always been that. It’s about how best we actualise and deliver on our positivity that is the main thing now.
One of the areas we need to realise is that Apprenticeships are constantly evolving to meet the needs of employers, employees, and the economy, and just being able to navigate through available options to make a life altering decision can be overwhelming and daunting for many and that is the best place to start. We need to get that right as a country and part of the solution is having more places to showcase the best opportunities available.
We need more role models and the right level of promotion combined with engagement, support, and overall policy”
“Now we need to see Government giving apprenticeships the ‘rocket boosters’ that the Prime Minister spoke about.
The cornerstone of our belief is that the best person to promote and sell apprenticeship programmes are apprentices themselves, this is where our organisation will add additional focus, we will strive practically at all levels and this is where we need your support”