Should schools be set targets to get more young people considering Apprenticeships? #GCSEResults2016

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It's #GCSEResults2016 Day!

Today is #GCSEResults2016, where pupils across the country will be tearing open those big brown envelopes to reveal those all-important grades.

Qualifications aren't the only thing employers are looking for

Grades, and indeed qualifications, are important. They are still used as a handy benchmarking tool for employers to determine whether that young person has the required academic creditials to fill a job role, apprenticeship or other programme of training in their company. However, qualifications aren’t the only thing employers are looking for.

EEF’s most recent skills survey found that around a thid of employers said they were experiencing recruitment difficulties due to candidates lacking relevant qualifications. A far greater number 67% said applicants lacked technical skills and 61% industry experience. So it’s actually a combination of these which will catch employers’ eye.

But let’s park the value of qualifications for a second and think about the next move for those young people today.

Manufacturers are looking to recruit young apprentices

79% of manufacturers plan to recruit an engineering apprentice in the next 12 months and 45% plan to recruit an apprentice in other areas such as IT, sales and marketing and finance.

Manufacturers also tend to recruit younger apprentices, with 75% targeting the 16 to 18 year old age bracket. This is not surprising given around half of manufacturers say they offer apprenticeships to get young people into the workforce.

And with two in five companies saying over 40% of their workforce is over 50 years old…you can begin to see why...


The shrinking pool of young talent

So a huge demand for young people. Where are they all coming from?

Unfortuantely the number of young people is actually set to take a bit of a dip in the coming years, with ONS projections estimating quite a fall. Not good news for all of those companies planning on bringing in fresh, young talent.


But then the talent pool shrinks even more because, despite best efforts, the number of Key Stage 4 pupils (those collecting their GCSEs today) choosing an apprenticeship as their next "destination" is low.

Can you guess what it is?

Let me give you some other stats first….

In 2013-14:

  • 39% of Key Stage 4 pupils went on to a school sixth form
  • 34% went onto a further education college
  • 13% went onto a sixth form college.

And what percentage went onto an apprenticeship….?


That’s it!

What’s more…this figure hasn’t changed since 2010-11….unlike school sixth form which has crept up.


So what can be done?

We’ll we’ve tinkered around the edges with the former Education Secretary stating that the government will lay down regulations to ensure that all schools allow FE colleges to come in and talk to their pupils.

But is this really enough?

Unless there is some major incentive…or disincentive (carrot or stick) for schools to get pupils going onto Apprenticeships, it seems that any major progress is a long way off.

And that’s why we’d like to see targets for schools to send their pupils onto apprenticeships.

Every school knows about the 5 good GCSE passes benchmarking and that’s where all the focus is (it also plays quite a key role in league tables). But we think it's about time we really put the spotlight on apprenticeships and get well as young people, their parents employers and the government thinking more about apprenticeships.



Head of Education & Skills Policy

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