MP’s ask for student views on Apprenticeships; get some help, the odd crazy but mostly tumbleweed

(all post counts etc correct at the time of writing)

As part of their inquiry into Apprenticeships for 16-19 year olds the Education Select Committee have, to be fair to them, tried to be proactive and reach out beyond the usual suspects to gain views from both actual apprentices and their peers in this age group by hosting a number of threads on studentroom.co.uk

They’ve posted 4 threads:

1) Where you told about about Apprenticeships as part of your careers guidance?

Which has 9 actual replies including the helpful from recent school leavers who all reinforce the line that Apprenticeships were offered as an option for students with expected lower grades and the not so helpful (“I was shipped off to fight in **** holes across the world. So, no.” – ok chief, thanks for that).

2) Who should provide information about Apprenticeships?

Which has a small number of contributions from 4 posters who all suggest that there should be a central online portal for young people to access apprenticeship vacancies. The marketing team at NAS, to the back of the class with you immediately.

3) What did you get out of your Apprenticeship?

Currently overflowing with the grand total of 3 responses, all of which has positive feedback from posters regarding their Apprenticeship experience but perhaps the lack of response to this question might reinforce what the Committee already knows. There just aren’t that many young people completing Apprenticeships.

4) Why do an Apprenticeship? What puts people off?

Compared to the others this thread is Times Square on New Years Eve. Over 3 pages of comments ranging from the thoughtful (“A degree is for life, not just for one business”), to the very well informed to positive views from employers but throughout a common complaint about the perception of the low level of pay recurs, perhaps summed up best by this comment:

They are seen as being low paid, because nobody realises/cares about the qualifications. More needs to be done to highlight the issue. Going to uni gets paid nothing (well, you get a loan to pay back, and sometimes grants) but most people don’t say they’d be better off working in Tesco than getting a degree.

But I think this is part of a wider problem, in that unless you have parents to support you an apprenticeship is not an option. You’re generally not eligible for a student bank account with overdraft, and can’t live in student accommodation. Some apprenticeships will provide accommodation, but probably most don’t. So for people from low-income families it’s unrealistic – their family can’t support them whilst they earn £2 an hour.

I hope that what little response they’ve had through this route doesn’t put the Committee off in future trying to access young people’s views using non traditional routes like this and the small nuggets of insight they have received are useful in guiding their recommendations.

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