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DfE need to promote apprenticeships

An in-depth investigation by MPs into the future of apprenticeships has concluded that the Department for Education and schools must do more to promote apprenticeships as being on a par with university pathways.

MPs have delivered a stark reminder that there remains “an underlying assumption that vocational training is only for those unable to take an academic route”.

Members of the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee made the comments after an investigation into the government’s apprenticeships programme.

In their report, the MPs call for the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) to be given a statutory role to raise awareness of apprenticeships in schools and says the Department for Education (DfE) must do more to help schools promote them as a viable option to students.

Last year, £1.2 billion was invested by government in the apprenticeship programme and more than 457,000 people started training as an apprentice. However, Association of Colleges research found that just 7% of pupils are able to name apprenticeships as a post-GCSE option compared with 63% of young people who are able to name A levels.

The report states: “Apprenticeships should be an attractive option for school-leavers. There remains an underlying assumption that vocational training is only for those unable to take an academic route. This is wrong and must be changed. The academic route and the vocational route should be given equal prominence in careers advice.”

Currently the duty on informing students about apprenticeship options rests with schools, and NAS chief executive David Way told MPs during their investigation that the NAS’s role was one of support rather than leading this work.

However, MPs say that this must change: “The NAS should be a familiar name, known to all students and teachers as an authoritative source of information about apprenticeships.”

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