After a slump in recent years, apprenticeships are growing in popularity once again. 860,000 people started an apprenticeship in 2012/13, an increase of 370,000 from the half a million people who started one of the schemes in 2009/10. The figures suggest that the recent emphasis on young people going on to study at university may have shifted slightly towards work-based learning schemes. This may have come about as a result of improved career advice in schools and colleges, ensuring that young people are fully aware of the options available to them from a younger age.
“A Focus on Quality”
The news that participation on advanced level apprenticeships has increased by more than 50,000 will be music to the ears of Skills Minister Matthew Hancock, who commented that “There are now more options than ever before with a focus on the quality and rigour that people and employers want from apprenticeships.”
What do apprenticeships actually involve?
Apprenticeships offer on-the-job training and look to provide young people with more practical skills that can be transferred directly into the workplace. This often involves a mixture of at least 30 hours paid work a week, mixed with studies towards obtaining an NVQ or BTEC qualification.
Professions such as a plumber, joiner or bricklayer might generally have been considered as typical careers that apprenticeships led to in the past. However, with the rise in popularity of higher or advanced apprenticeships, all that has changed. Young people without degrees can now go into fields such as accounting, IT and banking after completing the schemes, which are open to existing apprentices, employees and A-level school leavers.
You can go here to find out some more about apprenticeships and to see if they could be the right option for you.
Is career advice improving?
Although a recent Ofsted report stated that three-quarters of schools are not giving sufficient career help to young people, the news that more people are exploring their options further and starting on apprenticeships may suggest that they could be receiving better help from career advisers than first thought. However, it’s also possible that students are now seeking career advice from other sources such as the internet or friends and family, as career help in schools isn’t quite cutting the proverbial.
Another possible reason for the increased interest in apprenticeships could be the higher tuition fees that students must now pay to go to university. With a 10% fall in applications across England, equating to 50,000 prospective students, they’re likely to seek other options instead: and clearly apprenticeships are a popular choice. This is despite Sir Michael Wilshaw, head of Ofsted, commenting in the aforementioned report that ‘it is worrying that the new arrangements are failing to provide good guidance or to promote vocational training options and apprenticeships.’