Apprenticeships need a higher status, MP urges
The status of apprenticeships needs to be upgraded so they can be presented as a first class career opportunity, a senior MP has urged.
Gordon Birtwistle, Lib Dem MP for Burnley and chairman of the All Parliamentary Apprenticeship Group (APPAG) said schools should wake p to the opportunities that apprenticeships offer and be aware that universities do not always offer the best option for young people.
"I believe that careers advice in schools is crucial. Young people need to be told about, and shown, what is available these days outside the school gates. It is wrong for schools to advise young people to go to university just to ensure that their figures for pupils attending university go up," he said.
A group of 13 young apprentices were last month invited to the House of Commons to meet members of the APPAG, accompanied by the APPAG's sponsors, the EAL, the awarding body for the engineering, manufacturing, building services and related sectors and the IMI Awards (the IMI awarding body). Together, they form the Industry Apprentice Council (IAC), which aims to ensure the views of industry apprentices are heard by Parliament and other opinion formers.
Three guests had been invited to talk to the APPAG: Sue Price, National Apprenticeship Service; David Pollard, small business owner and Federation of Small Businesses (and who had also been involved in the recent reviews of apprenticeships led by Jason Holt and Doug Richard); and Chris Roberts, managing director of motor dealerships in Lincolnshire and chairman of IMI Awards.
During the meeting, the issues that raised most concern from both apprentices and MPs were the lower perceived status of the apprenticeship route when compared with university and how little information and attention was given to preparing young people for work generally.
In a Parliamentary debate on the economy, Mr Birtwistle described how he had spoken to a number of young people who had been through the apprenticeship system whose university educated peers were still looking for employment.