I may run the risk of sounding like a broken record, but when it comes to careers advice, apprenticeships can boost the economy, improve productivity and train people with excellent skills. It’s all well and good me shouting over and over again about the worth of apprenticeships, or about the lack of careers advice and information available for kids leaving school, but of course, actions speak louder than words. That’s why I’m again taking my apprentice views to the heart of government, by exhibiting at the Conservative Party Conference. However, it’s not just my views I’ll be championing. I’ll be publishing a report I’ve commissioned that features the opinions and experience of apprentices. I’ll also have a team of Pimlico Plumbers apprentices with me who’ll talk to Conservative Party Conference delegates about the report. Since March, we’ve been asking a number of past and present apprentices, about the consistency of careers advice that young people are given surrounding opportunities provided through an apprenticeship. It might be a few years since I left school, but it seems not much has changed in terms of the lack of careers advice given to showcase the benefits of an apprenticeship. Our report, which has been supported by former secretary of state for education, Rt Hon Lord Baker of Dorking, who has also written a foreword for the study, shows that only 33 per cent of the apprentices asked, felt that careers advisers explained to them about apprenticeships when they were at school. Following that, only a quarter said they were encouraged to think about an apprenticeship and just 15 per cent met an apprentice as part of their careers advice. For me, that’s proof that kids aren’t getting a fair representation of what’s out there. Don’t get me wrong, the government has taken steps in the right direction. For example, I think that the commitment to create three million apprenticeships by 2020 is great, but it’s a big target and we need better-quality intervention at school level if we’re going to get there. To do this, the government needs to commit to seeing it through by listening to apprentices, getting feedback straight from the horse’s mouth and taking my research and others like it, into serious consideration. We need to get apprentices into schools, talking to young people and getting them to complete work experience in skills-based jobs. If you’re in school and you see a former apprentice turn up with a nice car, financial security and a good quality of life, it’s going to be a great advert. There’s no logical explanation as to why kids should feel like an academic route and going to university is the only option. If they want to embark on a degree then that’s fine, but they shouldn’t be discouraged for weighing up their options. I hope that the government will take notice of this report and take the time to work with employers on careers advice and services. Much has been done, but as these stories of active apprentices show, too many schools careers advisers are pushing the academic route and it needs to change. There is a different way to success – I should know.
Share this story