A lot of changes have been announced in education – including changes to the way that GCSE and A levels are graded. While these changes may be some way off, there is one that we simply couldn’t ignore – and it is good news for apprenticeships and other vocational routes into work, as well as for school and college students!
The Department for Education has announced plans to ensure schools offer equal promotion to non-academic routes for students post-16. Too many schools and colleges focus on academic routes after school, such as university, without offering a fair and honest account of the other routes that are available to pupils.
This is not to insinuate that there is some sort of conspiracy against non-academic routes, but rather that a lot of the teachers who are offering advice may be unaware of the various options available – often coming from an academic background themselves. Since these same teachers may not be career advice professionals, it is perhaps only understandable that they will draw on their own knowledge when advising their pupils.
Despite their best efforts, we can’t expect teachers to be career advice professionals. However, this often led to a two-tiered style of advice, where apprenticeships and other technical and professional routes were only recommended to the lowest achieving pupils. This, in turn, created a perception that apprenticeships were only for those ‘not good enough’ to go to university.
But that all looks set to change.
Perhaps due to the apprenticeship levy, more businesses are taking the matter of hiring apprentices more seriously. The benefits of training staff from scratch are evident to many companies, which means more opportunities for young people, and employers will certainly want to try and find the best young people they can.
Rather than just being a ‘second-best’ option, apprenticeships and other vocational routes are increasingly recognised as what they should be – a genuine choice. The fact that this will spread into schools and colleges with apprentice providers and staff coming in to speak with pupils is a great thing.
We can’t be expected to know your options if they are never properly explained to you, and this move to ensuring all the routes are represented – whether academic or not – can only be of benefit to both employers and young people alike.
Too many young people pack their bags and head off to university each year simply because they don’t know what else to do, and who can blame them? If all you ever hear is about the academic option, why would you question it?
However, rather than building up university debt without a clear idea of what to do next, due to a lack of information, these changes to how schools approach careers advice could help stem the tide of graduates leaving university to find their prospects were not what they thought they might be.
It is not about whether university is better or worse than an apprenticeship – it is all about what suits you, making sure you get the skills needed for your career, and what you actually want to do. This is now being better reflected in the number of industries and careers that are opening up to apprenticeships – now you really do have a choice – and that is good news for everyone.