Job advice for children in poverty a 'national disgrace'

Apprentice at Airbus in Flintshire Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption An apprentice at Airbus in Flintshire

A lack of careers advice is stopping young people getting out of poverty in Wales, an education expert has warned.

Just 1.3% of school leavers went into work place training programmes, such as apprenticeships, last year.

Prof David Egan, of Cardiff School of Education, said it was a "national disgrace" that children were not given the chance to get out of poverty.

The Welsh Government said it was working to increase career advice capacity.

Prof Egan's comments came as anti-poverty campaigners called for new targets and inspections for schools to check if they were encouraging young people to take up apprenticeships on the same level as degrees.

According to the latest figures there is approximately one careers advisor for every six schools, the equivalent of one to about 4,500 pupils.

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Media captionProf David Egan said children were not getting the careers help to get out of poverty

A survey by Careers Wales - a Welsh minister-funded service charged with providing impartial careers advice - suggested just 1.3% of young people leaving school at 16 at the end of the last academic year went into work place training schemes, such as apprenticeships, a drop from 1.6% in 2012.

Prof Egan, chairing the national child poverty conference near Cardiff, said the figures were a "national crisis" and young people were being let down.

"I do think that is a disgrace, that we're not providing, not encouraging, not enabling, our young people, particularly those perhaps from the most disadvantaged backgrounds to enable them to have those kinds of routes forward," he said.

An estimated 200,000 children live in poverty in Wales - the equivalent of one in three.

Prof Egan said that the lack of careers advice in schools was especially damaging for children living in deprived areas, as they relied on it for impartial advice for routes into apprenticeships, higher and further education, which many did not get from their families and others within their communities.

"We do not have an appropriate careers service that can give independent and impartial advice to young people in Wales," he added.

"When you think of the impact, we are not offering young people the opportunity, to give them the leg up out of poverty.

"In the end it will be through getting reasonably paid employment that they will have the chance of moving out of poverty, and moving their families out of poverty."

A spokeswoman for the Welsh Government said increasing the numbers of young people doing apprenticeships was an important part of its policy to deliver at least 100,000 high quality apprenticeships in this assembly term.

"We have also increased our investment in apprenticeships from £96m to £111.5m for 2017-18, bringing our total investment in apprenticeships and traineeships next year to over £126m," she said.

"We are working closely with Careers Wales and the National Training Federation on an action plan to increase the number of young people taking up apprenticeships and working with schools to improve the focus on apprenticeships and increase career advice capacity."

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