Looking At Apprenticeship Quality & AdvicePosted: 21st of May 2015 by
With the newly-elected government pledging to focus on Apprenticeships for young people, it is clear that there will be changes in how vocational qualifications are seen. In fact, the figures have been backing up the benefits of apprenticeships for some months now – with real-life work experience, on-the-job training for a specific career, high rates of employment, and without the debts incurred by university graduates, there is plenty to praise apprenticeships for. However, there still seems to be some level of uncertainty among parents and educators when it comes to advising young people to take apprenticeships. There are certainly a lot of myths around apprenticeships – but in order to overcome them, perhaps we need to look at what could be improved too?
First of all, there seems to be a need to improve advice about apprenticeships in schools. With teachers often forced to fill in as careers advisors, it is understandable that the promotion of vocational training can be underwhelming. After all, most teachers will have taken an academic route into their own careers, so will know little or nothing about the benefits of vocational training first-hand.
While it may be too hopeful to expect every school to employ a careers advice professional to overcome this problem, it may help if schools forged even stronger links with local employers. Allowing them to explain the benefits of vocational training would certainly help offer a different perspective, while teachers could still provide advice using their first-hand knowledge of the students themselves.
Perhaps the boundaries between academic learning and employment could be further eroded by a focus on subjects and different employment sectors? This would also help students to begin to see where the subjects they love could take them as a career.
However, the biggest issue with apprenticeships is one of quality. As the government pledges to increase availability it is also important to make sure apprenticeships are of a high standard. It is no good having vocational training that fails to meet a certain standard – especially when apprenticeships are competing with clearer post-school routes such as university.
It is certainly worth doing some research into an apprenticeship before you apply for it, while there are many reputable apprenticeship schemes by well-known companies that are fantastic, some smaller openings may still be suspect. However, these days it is easier than ever to do some background checking online to see what former apprentices have said.
The final hurdle for the apprenticeship route may be tougher to overcome, as it is about how students apply. Unlike going to university or college where getting the right grades ensures entry, an apprenticeship requires an application, just like any other job. While this may seem daunting to many young people, it is the same process they would have to face after graduating from university!
While the benefits of strong apprenticeship programmes for both business and the apprentices have been widely reported, it seems that there is still an invisible barrier to overcome. Perhaps better guidance alongside facts such as improved earning potential, higher chances of getting a job once qualified, and direct workplace skills will make the difference?
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