Monday 3 February 2020 12:01 am

Education secretary urges parents to rethink apprenticeships

Gavin Williamson has urged parents to move on from “outdated” stereotypes of apprenticeships. 

A new survey by the parent website Mumsnet found that too many parents are unaware of the range of opportunities apprenticeships can offer. 

Read More: Businesses say apprentice levy not increasing training spend

According to the research published today, over 60 per cent of parents of children aged 13-18 surveyed said they were concerned their child would be “making the tea” if they chose the apprenticeship route. 

The theme of this year’s National Apprenticeship Week which starts today is “Look Beyond”. Employers are being encouraged to look beyond traditional hiring routes. 

The education secretary said: “This shows that outdated views are holding young people back from pursuing their dream career.” 

“Every parent wants the best for their children and when they ask you for advice about their futures, it’s incredibly daunting. But I know that when I’m asked for help by my children I will absolutely encourage them to consider an apprenticeship,” he added. 

Nearly half (48 per cent) of parents surveyed said they weren’t worried about the future earning potential of their child should they choose an apprenticeship. However 45 per cent of parents think apprenticeships are not valued as highly as a university degree by the country’s top employers. 

Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts said: “Some of our users are not very confident about explaining the opportunities on offer, and in some cases perhaps haven’t yet fully understood the range of qualifications and the doors they can open with employers” . 

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Business urges reform of apprenticeship system 

Business groups London First and the North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT) are calling for changes to the current apprenticeship levy to increase numbers. 

A report launched by the groups today reveals that millions of pounds of funds remain unused and new starts for 16 to 18 year olds have fallen since the levy was introduced. 

“Many firms want to take on more apprentices but are hamstrung by a needlessly complex and inflexible system”, said Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of London First. 

“With skills shortages already biting, and likely to be worsened by changes to the immigration system, it’s vital the government urgently takes action to reboot the system.” 

Read More: London businesses ‘unaware’ of improvements to apprenticeship levy

The report, Delivering the Workforce of Tomorrow, sets out the groups’ ideas for reform. It includes giving business greater flexibility in how they use funds and transfer them to other businesses. 

The Federation of Small Businesses is also calling on the government to secure the long-term future of apprenticeships. National chair Mike Cherry said: “The government pledged during the general election campaign that they would improve the apprenticeship levy and now is the time to act.”