A positive step for apprenticeships

Tiffany Beck OBE

Senior Account Director - Head of Education

At PLMR, we welcome the Department for Education’s decision to enable young people to apply for apprenticeships alongside degrees through UCAS – a key recommendation in our recent report into teachers’ experiences of and attitudes towards universities and apprenticeships.

This move will not only streamline the apprenticeship application process, but will also raise awareness of the apprenticeship routes available to young people and better support teachers as they shepherd students through the important process of determining their next steps in employment or education.

The announcement said that from this autumn, UCAS will expand its service so young people can see more personalised options, including apprenticeships. Then, from 2024, students will be able to apply for apprenticeships through UCAS alongside an undergraduate degree application.

As the Department for Education says, the plans will help put technical and vocational education on an equal footing with traditional academic routes. By opening up the service to apprenticeship opportunities, thousands more young people will benefit from a wider choice of high-quality options. Employers will also benefit from better access to talent on UCAS and the ability to manage their apprentice recruitment process.

Critically, this will also allow teachers to confidently know where to go for information about apprenticeships and better support their students with information for their future, helping solve a challenge highlighted in our report.

Using Teaching Tapp data, our research found that nearly 70 per cent of teachers agreed that apprenticeships provide excellent future opportunities for students, yet only 26 per cent of teachers feel confident advising students about how to find an apprenticeship. In contrast, when it comes to university applications, an overwhelming majority of 90 per cent feel confident giving advice.

Considering this information, and more, we made three key recommendations to improve the experience for both teachers and students when determining post-16 destinations. These were to:

  • Make it a requirement that all apprenticeships are listed on ucas.com, with employers given the option to opt out – this would mean a comprehensive, one-stop shop for information and applications for universities, colleges, and apprenticeships is available, helping increase the confidence and awareness of apprenticeships among teachers and students.
  • Increase awareness of different post-18 opportunities for students through careers advisers – this will positively promote the successful careers available after graduating from university and better signpost and support young people who prefer apprenticeships.
  • Create and make accessible easily-digestible resources to boost confidence in understanding apprenticeships.

As part of the announcement, which comes during National Apprenticeship Week, the Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said the Government’s ambition is to develop a seamless ‘one-stop shop’ where a young person can explore all the high-quality options and learn about the skills and knowledge they need to develop to succeed in their chosen career, whether it’s a Level 2 apprenticeship, a T Level, a degree, a Skills Bootcamp, a higher technical qualification or a degree apprenticeship. The Government has asked the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education to use their work to map technical career routes to support this.

We hope our third recommendation – easily digestible resources – is also part of the plan. More resources, together with our second recommendation for careers advisers, is echoed by Kevin Gilmartin, post-16 specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), who said: “In order to make this work, there needs to be more resources and support for schools and colleges to be able to deliver guidance from expert careers advisers who are familiar with the complex apprenticeships landscape”.

It is excellent to see the system coming together to make it easier, clearer and less daunting for young people to explore the options available to them and for teachers to help support them to take those next big steps. We hope our full set of recommendations will come into play in order to help make the most of every opportunity for our young people.

Read our full report here https://bit.ly/3HCSbva.


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