Apprentices have sounded alarm bells over the future of apprenticeship schemes, according to a report backed by engineering skills body Semta.
Although a staggering 98% of apprentices claimed to be happy in their roles, only 22% of the 1,200 surveyed said they had good careers advice at school while many teachers knew nothing about the schemes.
The Apprenticeships: Achieving 98% happiness, but are they at risk? report, carried out by the Industry Apprentice Council and backed by Semta, calls on government to improve careers advice in schools and to ensure good quality apprenticeships in industry become the norm.
“As we finalise new standards for apprenticeships it is important that ministers listen to apprentices and prevent the collapse of an extremely successful system,” said Semta chief executive Ann Watson.
“We are already facing an uphill battle with poor careers advice in schools. We need to make apprenticeships more attractive not less to our young people and employers, particularly the SMEs, at a time when we need all the engineers we can get and the skills gap is growing – we need nearly two million more engineers and technical staff by 2025.”
Apprentices overwhelmingly dislike government plans to remove mandatory qualification requirements for apprenticeships, claiming it could create a two-tier system; students studying for the new T-Levels would gain a recognised qualification while those on apprenticeships could lose out.
Civil Engineering Contractors Association chief executive Alasdair Reisner told New Civil Engineer schools needed to do more to raise the profile of apprenticeships as an alternative route to university.
“Why go to university and saddle yourself with tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt when you can get as good, or in some cases even better, training through an apprenticeship?” he said.