Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw told the House of Lords Social Mobility Committee today that government should do more on promoting vocational routes.

He appeared in front of the committee flanked by his chief operating officer, Matthew Coffey (pictured below right), to give evidence on the role of the education watchdog in providing skills and employment opportunities for under-served groups of young people.

“We need to say a lot more about apprenticeships … perhaps government should say a lot more about what it is going to do to promote a strong vocational offer in schools and post-16, it’s not just up to Ofsted to say we’re going to do this,” said Sir Michael.

He added the fact that only 5 per cent of young people were going into apprenticeships, and only 3 per cent from disadvantaged backgrounds, was “a nonsense” that must be addressed.

He also called on head teachers to make sure their students understood the opportunities outside the school and criticised some for encouraging learners to stay on into sixth form when other pathways might be better.

He added that employers also needed to “take ownership” and act as the “gatekeepers” for apprenticeships, saying that this would help to ensure that a high level of quality was maintained as progress was made towards achieving the government’s target of 3m new apprenticeships by 2020.

Sir Michael also commented on the role of local enterprise partnerships (Leps), saying that that they “vary very much in quality” and are sometimes perceived as “remote” by education providers.

The hearing comes just weeks after his report on apprenticeships was critical of government funding of the programme where learners were aged 25-plus and already employed.

See @FEWeek for live Twitter coverage from this morning’s hearing and also using the #HLSMC hashtag.