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Schools must do more to raise apprenticeship awareness

Schools must raise more awareness of apprenticeships as a viable option for students, according to apprentices.

In the face of rising university tuition fees and an engineering and technology skills shortage, apprentices from high profile organisations including Cisco and GCHQ have identified a lack of support in schools as a key reason for a low awareness and regard for apprenticeships in comparison to degrees.

Speaking at the recent Apprenticeship Provider’s Networking Event hosted by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), apprentices revealed that university was encouraged as the best option for a student’s future by their schools, and if they were not going to university they were given little or no help regarding their future.

Although schools are not ranked on the number of pupils that go on to attend university, it was suggested last year by Education Secretary, Michael Gove that future school league tables could show how many pupils went on to complete degrees.

Despite this view, the UK has seen substantial growth in apprenticeships with over 450,000 new apprenticeships signed up in 2010-11, up 63.5 per cent from the previous year.

However, with the demand for apprenticeships increasing from employers, the apprentices said there needs to be a steady flow of candidates and that schools needed to change their attitude.

“Apprenticeships were never mentioned as a viable alternative to university and the problem really lies in the perception of schools,” said Joshua Robinson, an apprentice at Cisco.

Professional registration is often the next step for young professionals, including apprentices, many of whom work towards a category such as EngTech or ICTTech as part of their apprenticeship scheme.

The Apprenticeship Provider’s Networking Event took place last month at IET Savoy Place and featured speakers from the National Apprenticeship Service, GCHQ, Cisco and the IET.

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