From education to employment

Time for government to get tough on lack of awareness about apprenticeships among pupils

Jane Hickie, Managing Director, Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP)

@AELPUK backs @Halfon4harlowMP Education Committee chair’s call for action 

A general lack of awareness among school-leavers about the apprenticeship opportunities available to them remains a huge issue.  With Britain in recession and youth unemployment jumping to over 540,000, it is now critical that this is properly addressed once and for all.

For those students receiving their A level results in these very challenging circumstances, they have to weigh up whether university is the right option when even in good times, only 41% of graduates are going into full-time employment, saddled with debt.  Or they might want to look at a huge range of apprenticeship choices in the manufacturing and service sectors with apprenticeship routes now available to become fully qualified in most professions.

The trouble is that far too many young people don’t know about apprenticeships because they are not told about them at school.

The government needs to do two things urgently:

Properly Enforce The Baker Clause

Firstly it must follow Commons Education Committee chair Robert Halfon’s advice, reiterated on Monday in his foreword to the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) report, that the Baker Clause should be properly enforced. 

This legally requires all schools to inform pupils of all abilities about apprenticeship and other vocational learning opportunities that are available to them.  In the two and a half years since the clause’s introduction, the DfE’s own research and endless anecdotal evidence from apprentices, who found out about the programme through their own efforts or by chance, point to a very depressing picture of non-compliance.  It’s time for the government to get tough.

Introduce Time-limited Wage Subsidies

Secondly, AELP questions whether the albeit welcome post-pandemic financial incentives for employers to take on new apprentices, as announced in the Chancellor’s summer statement, will be enough to generate the amount of new opportunities needed.  Like the CSJ, we believe that time-limited wage subsidies are required to really make a difference.  We hope that the Treasury is taking a hard look at this in advance of the comprehensive spending review.

The Chancellor did a great job in July by injecting £111m in traineeships.  But it wasn’t just good news because of the funding; young people qualified up to level 3 (e.g. A level), can now get some valuable training and work experience via this provenly effective programme as a stepping stone to a full-time job or an apprenticeship where they can earn while they learn.  We need to raise awareness about traineeships too.

Jane Hickie, Managing Director, Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP)

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