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.
“The cybersecurity workforce shortfall remains a critical vulnerability for companies and nations”: that’s the conclusion of a new report focused on bridging the digital skills gap. And the problem is especially acute in the UK where the IT industry is the least satisfied among its international peers that the country’s education system is supporting the cyber security profession.
The Intel Security Hacking the Talent Shortage survey was put together by the IT in conjunction with Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and focuses on what can be done to address the growing skills gap. It’s a gap that is particular concern to UK employers, where only 14% of IT decision-makers believe the nation’s education system fully prepares professionals for the cyber security industry.
Making predictions can be a fool’s game. We don’t know what’s going to happen next week, let alone what our world will look like in five years, or 50.
Still, history teaches us to expect change. Take the workplace as an example. The jobs that were a staple a century ago no longer exist, and many jobs people have now weren’t around a decade ago.
Yet new research from the City & Guilds Group into skills confidence across the UK, US, India and South Africa found that three quarters of us are confident our jobs will exist in a decade.
More than nine in 10 British employees are confident in their own skills and productivity, and only 27 per cent and 17 per cent respectively are worried about the impact of immigration and globalisation on their job prospects.
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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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.
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.
Being an apprentice has never been more exciting! An opportunity to EARN & LEARN at the same time. To work alongside an experienced mentor showing you the ropes whilst gaining insightful knowledge!
Creating 3 million apprenticeships is at the heart of the Government’s commitment to ensure young people have the skills that employers are crying out for. Apprenticeships will give young people real, hands-on experience that can help change lives, reduce long-term youth unemployment and help our economy thrive.
Get In. Go Far, is a new government campaign that will launch shortly which is designed to inspire young people to consider apprenticeships as a valid and credible route to a rewarding career. Its aim is to inform and inspire young people, parents, teachers and employers about the range of opportunities available with apprenticeships and the quality of the employers who offer them.
Help us and the government in raising awareness to reach all 16-23 year olds in England, as well as their parents, teachers, and mentors!
Apprenticeships have enjoyed a fair share of the limelight so far this year. Not only did March’s National Apprenticeship Week take place soon after the increase in the apprentice wage rate and forthcoming introduction of the apprenticeship levy, but also in the wake of the Government announcing its aim to fund some three million new apprenticeships by 2020, which the levy will help to fund. There’s been a positive start on that front, with participation in apprenticeship schemes up to a record 871,000 during the 2014/15 tax year.
But if apprenticeships are going to hit such heady heights in the future, they are undoubtedly going to need the support of small and medium-sized enterprises, who make up well in excess of 99% of all UK businesses. Many of those companies are already realising the benefits of having apprentices on board, with our latest research showing that two in five (39%) of those SMEs with at least ten employees in place took on at least one new apprentice in the past twelve months. That figure falls, however, to just one in ten (10%) of companies that have less than ten employees, demonstrating how those smallest businesses may have greater time and resource constraints when it comes to introducing an effective apprenticeship scheme.
The government has today announced the employer time limit on using their levy funds, due for introduction in April 2017.
The news came in an updated guide to the apprenticeship levy and “how it will work” web page, published this afternoon.
An apprenticeship levy operating guide for employers, to be published in April, had been promised in last month’s budget.
The latest version of the guidance stated: “Funds will expire 18 months after they enter your digital account unless you spend them on apprenticeship training,”.
It continued: “Whenever a payment is taken from your digital account it will automatically use the funds that entered your account first. This will minimise the amount of expired funds.”
The apprenticeship levy, first announced by the government in July, is set at 0.5 per cent of an employer’s paybill.
The number of 19-year-olds gaining level three through A-levels has fallen for the first time in seven years, while the figures for those achieving the same standard through vocational routes continues to rise.
The proportion for A-levels fell by 0.3 per cent last year — the first drop since 2008, according to statistics published by the Department for Education (DfE) for level 2 and 3 attainment by age 19 in 2015.
In contrast, the figures for those gaining level three through vocational qualifications by age 19 rose by 0.8 per cent in 2015, to 18.4 per cent.
This represents an increase of over 15 per cent since 2004.