Commission on Apprenticeships: All schools should offer vocational subjects

A Commission on Apprenticeships has concluded that all schools should offer one vocational subject to pupils to increase apprentice numbers

Co-chaired by Conservative MP for Harlow Robert Halfon and Labour member Lord Glasman, the cross-party commission discovered that University is more widely promoted than alternative routes such as technical and vocational courses.

The commission was brought into effect last summer to make sure that apprenticeship qualifications are fit for purpose, and also to make recommendations on how to boost the amount of UK apprenticeships being taken.

Demos, the Commission’s choice as a cross-party think tank, found that three quarters of parents think apprenticeships are a good option for young people.

According to the poll of 1,000 parents of 15 and 16-year-olds, one third (32 per cent) thought an apprenticeship was the ideal route for their child, while over half (52 per cent) thought university was a better choice.

In 2013/14 there were 1030 less construction apprenticeships completed compared to the previous year, from 9060 to 8030.

In order to meet the forecast demand for 2019, the CITB’s latest Construction Skills Network report suggests that an average of 44,690 people will need to be recruited annually between now and 2019.

The commission’s final report, supported by the CITB, makes 15 recommendations to policymakers to increase the number of apprenticeships (full list below).

The commission’s final report recommends that all 14 to 16-year-olds should be given the opportunity to take a vocational subject alongside their academic studies at school. The report also advises schools offer face-to-face services as part of a high-quality public sector careers programme. Also outlined by the report was that a employer bodies and schools develop partnerships to build a greater understanding of various industries.

Employers that set an example for high-quality training provision should expect the government to offer support and recognition for commitment to apprentices and their progress. The level of achievement is said to be measured by an apprenticeship charter, monitoring employer training standards.

CITB’s director of policy Steve Radley said: “There are a wide range of opportunities available to young people in the construction sector, from building homes and businesses, to maintaining historic properties, to working on major infrastructure projects like railways, stadiums and new energy hubs.

“But schools and parents need a better understanding of what apprenticeships offer.

“As well as leading to rewarding careers, construction apprenticeships can also be the pathway to a university degree but are too often seen as a second best alternative to it.”

Demos researcher Ian Wybron said: “Schools, businesses and policymakers should work together to promote apprenticeships as a first-rate option to be considered by all young people.”

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