11% of 15-18s encouraged to take up an apprenticeship

One in ten 15 to 18-year-olds are being encouraged to take up an apprenticeship by their schoolteachers, a new YouGov survey has revealed.

The research was commissioned by training provider JTL ahead of National Apprenticeship Week, which starts on Monday, February 3.

It found that 73 per cent of students reported that the most likely recommendation from their school or sixth form would be to follow a university route.

There was an increase of three percentage points in the proportion of those surveyed being encouraged towards apprenticeships since JTL’s last survey – from eight per cent in 2017 to 11 per cent in 2019.

Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief executive Mark Dawe said that considering that the Baker Clause – a legal requirement for schools to promote apprenticeships and other skills programmes – has been in force since 2018, this report “makes depressing reading”.

He questioned how the “disastrously low figure” of 11 per cent was possible, considering that the Careers Enterprise Company “is claiming 74 per cent of all schools are engaging with them”.

Dawe called on Ofsted to “crack down really hard in its inspections on schools’ non-compliance with the Baker Clause”.

The policy stipulates schools must ensure a range of FE providers have access to pupils from year 8 to year 13 to provide information on technical education and apprenticeships.

All schools are required to publish a policy statement to show how they ensure education and training providers can talk to students.

However, a 2019 report by the Institute for Public Policy Research found two-thirds of schools were flouting the controversial rule a year after it came into force. The DfE later confirmed “no action was taken” against schools that failed to comply.

The results of the YouGov survey also indicated that just ten per cent of 15 to 18-year olds are “very content” with the amount of technical job support or practical skills, such as engineering or plumbing, they receive in lessons.

In addition, a gender gap was revealed in relation to students being directed to certain professions – only five per cent of females surveyed felt they had been encouraged to become a skilled tradesperson compared with 14 per cent of males.

Jon Graham, chief executive of JTL, said: “These results are disappointing. They show there is still much more work to be done in ensuring school leavers are fully aware of the benefits of undertaking an apprenticeship – and in helping their parents or guardians feel confident and empowered in choosing this route”.

He claimed that the UK is experiencing a skills shortage, particularly within the building services engineering sector, so apprenticeships “offer a fantastic opportunity for school leavers to embark on a career in a highly skilled and well-paid job”.

“We really want to challenge people’s understanding of what an apprenticeship involves and importantly what it can lead to, so that all school leavers are fully informed,” Graham added.

“We also want to encourage more female and BAME learners, who are massively underrepresented within the trades, to consider an apprenticeship as an option.”

YouGov surveyed 1,060 children aged 15 to 18 in December 2019 to collect the data.

For this year’s National Apprenticeship Week, the Department for Education has asked employers to “open their doors in a nationwide series of ‘Look Beyond’ events to bring apprentices, parents and teachers together and fire up conversation around apprenticeships”.

Activities include Twitter Q & As with employers and apprentices, as well as a ‘Big Assembly’ online interactive webinar for teachers.

More than 350 other events are planned across the country to “celebrate the diversity and value that apprenticeships bring to employers, apprentices and communities”.

FE Week will produce our annual supplement celebrating the week on February 7.