IET: Apprenticeships growing but schools must do more

Head teachers, teachers and careers advisors within schools must do more to raise awareness of apprenticeships as a viable option for their students’ futures, according to apprentices at a recent Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) event.

In the face of rising university tuition fees and an engineering and technology skills shortage, apprentices from high profile organisations including Cisco and GCHQ have identified a lack of support in schools as a key reason for a low awareness and regard for apprenticeships in comparison to degrees.

Speaking at the recent Apprenticeship Provider’s Networking Event hosted by the IET, apprentices revealed that university was encouraged as the best option for a student’s future by their schools, and if they were not going to university they were given little or no help regarding their future. Although schools are not ranked on the number of pupils that go on to attend university, it was suggested last year by Education Secretary, Michael Gove that future school league tables could show how many pupils went on to complete degrees.

Despite this view, the UK has seen substantial growth in apprenticeships with over 450,000 new apprenticeships signed up in 2010-11, up 63.5 per cent from the previous year. However, with the demand for apprenticeships increasing from employers, there needs to be a steady flow of candidates. This is where schools need to change their attitudes, as according to Joshua Robinson, apprentice at Cisco, “Apprenticeships were never mentioned as a viable alternative to university and the problem really lies in the perception of schools.”

Professional registration is often the next step for young professionals, including apprentices, many of whom work towards a category such as EngTech or ICTTech as part of their apprenticeship scheme. The Apprenticeship Provider’s Networking Event was held in February at IET London: Savoy Place and featured speakers from the National Apprenticeship Service, GCHQ, Cisco and the IET.


Notes to Editors
The IET is a source of essential engineering intelligence for its 150,000 members in 127 countries.