From education to employment

David Cameron: Apprenticeships should be ‘the new norm’

Apprenticeships should be the “new norm” for school leavers deciding against going to university, according to Prime Minister David Cameron.

Speaking on the first day of National Apprenticeship Week, Cameron said he wanted work-based training to be at the centre of plans to rebuild the economy.

“We need to look at how we can expand Apprenticeship opportunities so that they are available to all young people who are ready and eager to take them up and aspire to get ahead in life,” he said.

The latest estimates show more than 500,000 people started an Apprenticeship between 2011 and 2012, however, this year there has been a decline in 16-18 year olds taking up the courses.

According to Lord Adonis, principal adviser to the Labour Party’s policy review on industrial strategy and newly-appointed chair of think tank IPPR, part of the problem is the way careers advice is offered in schools.

“I think we need stronger information, advice and guidance (IAG) from a reformed Connexions or career service,” he said.

“Schools are more than capable of bringing in themselves independent advice from people who better understand the Apprenticeship route. In places where existing IAG is weak, schools should be taking the lead.”

According to Lord Adonis, there is not a single more important challenge than the transformation of Apprenticeships.

“There should – at the age of 18 or 19 – be as many good quality Apprenticeship places on offer as there are university places,” he said.

Natalie Thornhill

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