Further Education

‘Why schools are perfect places for apprenticeships’

Taking on apprentices can be a way to create exciting opportunities and intricately develop schools’ involvement in teacher training, writes one leading headteacher

There’s a lot of talk about apprenticeships at the moment, including the dreaded apprenticeship levy.

I can imagine some schools are furious that they are going to have to pay for something that right now has no meaning to them.

I believe in the apprentice programme. My school has a strong track record in supporting apprentices.

We currently employ 13 apprentices across the school, specialising in skills such as sports tuition, business administration, finance, nursery education and specialist education.

Apprentices spend one day a week at our local college to gain a qualification in their specialist area. After two years they can seek employment or higher education.

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‘How schools can teach pupils about apprenticeships’

 

Mia Angell’s 18-year-old son is expected to do well in his A-levels and has had offers from three Russell Group universities to study computer science. However, he’s also applied for a degree apprenticeship with a government organisation, after his school brought it to parents’ attention. Angell thinks that it’s a good alternative: “It makes sense for him to get some hands-on experience, get paid while he’s doing it and also get a degree at the end of it.”

This view illustrates a growing acceptance among both parents and students that apprenticeship schemes offer a good alternative to other academic routes.

Keisha Walker, head of careers and employability at Phoenix Academy in London, says there has been a surge of interest this year, from both high achievers and less academic students, particularly in subjects such as engineering and ICT. Walker does, however, sound a note of caution: “I do say to the students: ‘Apprenticeships are so competitive that you still need to apply to a university or college as a backup.”

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‘One in three businesses unaware of new apprenticeship levy, survey finds’

 

A third of UK businesses are confused or unaware of the financial implications of the new apprenticeship levy due to be implemented in less than two months time, according to new research.

Across the country, just one in three businesses surveyed said they were fully aware of the levy, which will require all companies with a payroll totalling £3 million or more to invest 0.5 percent into the government’s apprenticeship scheme.

Coming into effect in April, it is hoped that the new charge will help the government reach its target of three million apprentices by 2020.

But new research published today by City & Guilds reveals that only 31 percent of respondents are planning to increase their number of apprentices, with 15 percent claiming that they would be forced to cut other recruitment schemes in order to offset the costs of the levy.

Of the 500 senior business leaders surveyed, nearly a quarter, or 23 percent, were unaware of the changes to the apprenticeship system, whilst 28 percent said they did not know whether they would be required to contribute when the levy commences in April.

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‘Do apprenticeships have a bad image?’

Colleges working closely with employers could help with the so-called ‘image problem’ of apprenticeships, writes one college executive.

According to reports in the media, apprenticeships are great. They’re becoming more and more popular and have huge backing from the government, so it seems odd to read in a survey that more than 90 per cent of 18-24 year olds aren’t interested in starting one. So what’s going on?

The survey results suggest that apprenticeships have an image problem, and young people, along with two-thirds of people aged over 55, thought that going to university would be a much better career option. The biggest reason for this is said to be poor careers advice being given at school.

But figures and student stories would suggest that there has never been a better time to start an apprenticeship. Nationally, there were almost 500,000 apprenticeships started in 2014-15, which was a 12 per cent increase from the year before.

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‘Institute for Apprenticeships – A Time to be Bold’

Responsibilities for integrity, quality and funding give the new Institute for Apprenticeships a potentially vital and lasting role in the national skills infrastructure but only if its role is fully formed and it has the space to both support and constructively challenge the progress that the reforms are making.

The introduction of the levy sees a fundamental shift in the balance of funding away from the public purse and firmly towards employers. The Institute is therefore a very welcome further manifestation of employer ownership and leadership. It needs to do the job that businesses need while ensuring it secures the support and confidence of three million more (mostly) young people whose lives will be shaped by their Apprenticeship experiences.

While it has taken a long time for the detail of the new Institute for Apprenticeships to be revealed, at least in draft form, there are reasons to believe that this body can make a difference if responses to the consultation pick up on the big opportunities that are presented.

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‘What next after GCSEs? A guide to apprenticeships, BTECs and NVQs’

GCSE Results Day has arrived. On August 25, thousands of students across the country, will be considering their options for the future.

Although A-levels remain the traditional route taken for post-16 education, there are several alternatives that students can consider. Here is our guide to apprenticeships, BTECs, NVQs, and traineeships.

Apprenticeships

What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships combine study with practical training on the job, and provide an excellent alternative to A-levels.

  • Students are thrown immediately into working-life, able to learn directly from experienced staff.
  • They will acquire job-specific skills in their chosen industry, whilst gaining a qualification in the process.
  • Apprenticeships are paid: companies such as BAE Systems, for example, offer a starting salary of £34k on completion.]

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Apprenticeships aren’t second-class degrees

As A-level results day approaches, the debate about post-18 education options has been reignited.

Mounting levels of student debt has made university less attractive to many young people than it was 10 years ago. A poll by the Sutton Trust found half of 11-16 year-olds who say they’re likely to go to university are worried about fees and living costs. There’s also been interesting research around earning prospects. According to the Longitudinal Education Outcomes data, one in four graduates of 2004 is now earning only £20,000, while the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s figures showed one in four graduates was not in a graduate job six months after earning their degree.

With fees at some universities set to rise further from 2017, the scrapping of maintenance grants and the prospect of years repaying student loans, young people are likely to be weighing up the costs and benefits of university carefully. In contrast to a full-time higher education course, apprenticeships allow you to earn while you learn and stay free of debt. Now available in most sectors, they provide a genuine alternative to university – especially as many jobs that graduates end up in don’t require their degree.

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When the country is flooded with graduates, why are we still pushing students to university?

Last month, it was announced by Ucas that the number of students enrolling for A-levels was set to increase by 4,000 with a commensurate decline in those enrolled for vocational courses.

In the view of Mary Curnock Cook, the Ucas chief executive: “It’s now a good decision to take A-levels even if you are not an A* student”.

She justified her view by arguing that: “… choosing A-levels means teenagers can keep their options open without having to fix a career path so early in life, whereas those choosing vocational qualifications such as sports science or health and social care (she was careful in the examples she chose!) are more likely to go into those fields, closing their options rather early in life.”

She concluded her argument by stating that: “sticking to academic qualifications doesn’t close any doors, regardless of whether you want to apply for a top apprenticeship or a top university.”

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‘Apprenticeships are good for everyone. So why aren’t companies buying in?’

WE NEED apprenticeships that let students study and work at the same time. They not only get students ready for the workforce, they also let businesses shape what students are learning, so that they graduate with skills that are immediately relevant to their industries.

But to keep such apprenticeships going, companies must be willing to put money in them. If they don’t, it’s up to the G to persuade them such programmes are worthwhile investments.

So for now, the G is working with universities and selected companies to launch pilots of these work-study apprenticeships. These plans were revealed by Acting Minister of Education Ong Ye Kung in an interview with The Straits Times on Monday (May 16), who added that in the 21st century, “businesses do not just offer internships, but step into the university to shape the curriculum”. In his interview, the minister also touched on the educational aspirations of Singaporeans, and his vision for the SkillsFuture movement.

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‘Why There’s Never Been a Better Time to Get Involved With Apprenticeships’

The launch of the Government’s new Get In Go Far advertising campaign for apprenticeships is a very welcome initiative, for both professional and personal reasons.

Growing the numbers of apprenticeships in this country is an issue close to my heart. I remember when hiring staff in my own business, the most important thing I looked for on a CV was experience, not just paper qualifications. Being able to see the knowledge and expertise a young person has gained from learning on the job can really help a business find the right candidate for the role.

It’s why I was honoured to be appointed the Apprenticeship Adviser for David Cameron as well as co-chair of the Apprenticeship Delivery Board last year. The Get In Go Far campaign will be key to helping raise awareness of the value of apprenticeships; inspire more young people to consider it as a valid, credible route to getting a great career, and encourage more businesses to hire apprentices.

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