Education & Family

Schools 'must offer apprenticeships option'

Plumber Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The government says there are many apprenticeship options available

Schools in England are to be required to give vocational routes as much time as academic subjects to help students who want to land apprenticeships.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said ministers wanted to "level the playing field", making sure young people are aware of all options open to them.

Ministers raised concerns over some schools, which only promote vocational education to less able pupils.

Apprenticeship providers must be given access to schools, Mrs Morgan said.

She added: "As part of our commitment to extend opportunity to all young people, we want to level the playing field - making sure they are aware of all the options open to them and are able to make the right choice for them," said Mrs Morgan.

"For many young people, going to university will be the right choice and we are committed to continuing to expand access to Higher Education, but for other young people the technical education provided by apprenticeships will suit them better.

"That's why I'm determined to tackle the minority of schools that perpetuate an outdated snobbery towards apprenticeships by requiring those schools to give young people the chance to hear about the fantastic opportunities apprenticeships and technical education offer."

'Earliest opportunity'

The responsibility for providing careers advice was handed to schools early in the last Parliament and many independent local careers advice services were scrapped.

This prompted concerns from further education providers that schools may only offer limited advice, rather than opening up the full range of options open to students.

The new legislation would require schools to collaborate with training providers, university technical colleges and colleges to make sure students were aware of all the paths open to them through apprenticeships, including Higher and Degree-level Apprenticeships.

The Department for Education said the government would look to bring in the legislation "at the earliest opportunity" with more details to be set out in the careers strategy.

Apprenticeship providers and staff from colleges would visit schools as part of careers advice from early secondary school years under the plans.

Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said: "To make informed choices for the future, young people need high quality, impartial careers information about all post-16 education and training options, including apprenticeships and technical and professional education.

"We have long been calling for an improvement to the system and welcome the changes outlined. Colleges recognise the critical nature of good careers education and will be very keen to continue to work together with their local schools. This announcement will make that a reality."

All young people in Wales, aged over 16, can apply for an apprenticeship, but they would usually need to have four to five GCSEs.

In Scotland, apprenticeships are handled by a national vacancy handling service for youth opportunities.

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