From education to employment

New Government must embrace apprenticeships  

New Government must embrace apprenticeships  

AS YOUNG people return to schools and colleges for the new academic year, many will be considering their future and will want to be aware of all the options.

This comes just weeks after the class of 2022 started digesting the most recent crop of ‘A’ level results.  

A national leader in the promotion of apprenticeships says missing out on a university place just might be a blessing in disguise.

“There are many good universities and degree courses, but going to university is not for everyone,” said Safaraz Ali, chief executive of Pathway Group a national training provider.

Mr Ali is also a champion of apprenticeships and founder of the Multicultural Apprenticeship Awards and Apprenticeship Alliance that encourages people from minority communities to take up apprenticeships.

Minority communities are underrepresented in apprenticeships and the Multicultural Apprenticeship Awards, that started six years ago, as the Asian Apprenticeship Awards, before becoming the BAME Apprenticeship Awards, is helping to address this by turning the spotlight on top apprentices, employers and training providers.

“Many people who do degrees emerge with a lot of debt and a qualification that leaves then either unable to get a job or at least not one at the level that they would have hoped,” added Mr Ali.

“There are good universities, for example, Birmingham City and Aston, that are working with Jobcentre Plus to help unemployed and under employed graduates. This illustrates the problem and shows that a university education is not the holy grail some think.

Mr Ali says he is encouraged that new Prime Minister Liz Truss gave a positive mention of apprenticeships during the recent hustings tour.

He also hopes that the new education secretary Kit Malthouse, Jacob Rees-Mogg, the new secretary of state for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy and Simon Clarke, who has cabinet responsibility for Leveling Up, will all recognize the importance of apprenticeships.

Mr Ali also acknowledged the commitment to apprenticeships of Rishi Sunak, who was beaten for the leadership by Ms Truss.

“I agree with former chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak, that people going to university and then not earning enough to be able to repay their student loan is no good for them or the taxpayer,” Mr Ali said.

“Mr Sunak’s support for apprenticeships is very welcome and he is correct that they deserve the same prestige and recognition as a university degree.

“I hope Mr Sunak will continue to speak out for apprenticeships from the back benches.”

Apprenticeships can now be taken in a wide range of occupational sectors and at different levels, up to degree.

A recent report said that health related apprenticeships can play a big part in tackling skills shortages and encouraging diversity and inclusion.

“Apprentices earn as they learn and provide the learner with a valuable vocational skill as well as benefitting the employer,” concluded Mr Ali.

“They are not only available to young people but can be a way for older workers to make a career change or improve their prospects.

“But my message to young people as they consider their ‘A’ level results is not to despair if they have not got the grades they hoped for.

“Think before taking a second-best option through clearing, because missing out on university, just might be the best thing to happen to you. There are many alternatives and apprenticeships can be a win-win for the individual, employer and the UK economy.”

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