More young people consider apprenticeships as teenagers across the North East pick up their A level results

Two in five young people are considering an apprenticeship rather than the traditional university route

Students from Whickham School celebrate their A Level results
Students from Whickham School celebrate their A Level results

As teenagers across the region prepare to pick up their A-level results, rising numbers are spurning a degree in favour of apprenticeships.

Two in five (41%) young people have contemplated becoming an apprentice, according to a survey by British Gas.

And over a quarter (28%) thought that choosing this route over a degree will increase their chances of landing a job.

The Journal has led calls for more apprenticeships with Proud to Back Apprenticeships campaign.

Leading businessman Bill Midgley, who is also chair of governors at Tyne Metropolitan College, in North Tyneside, said the figures represent a welcome change in attitude.

But he warned that still more needs to be done to meet our growing skills gap.

“Some degrees are very good but many young people are going to university for the sake of it and aren’t coming out with the necessary skills to secure a job or a long-term career,” he said.

“Engineering, manufacturing and construction jobs can be well-paid and young people and parents are beginning to realise this.

“These were once seen as ‘dirty’ jobs but there has been a growing change in attitude over recent months and it is precisely what the economy needs.

“Too many young people go to university, get a degree and for what purpose?

“Schools, businesses and government all have their parts to play in making sure we do not fail our young people.

“Sending teenagers to university looks good for schools, but it’s not necessarily good for young people or the wider economy.

“The Government needs to focus its funding in key areas, such as engineering, to make sure these industries are catered for and young people are provided for.”

Bill Midgley, Chair of Leazes Homes
Bill Midgley, Chair of Leazes Homes

The poll of 1,000 teenagers also found that nearly half (43%) say students should pick an apprenticeship because it will allow them to earn whilst they learn.

Business leaders have previously called for young people to be encouraged to take more practical courses and to learn key job skills that will help them in the workplace.

Rob Wall, head of education and employment policy, at the CBI, said: “The changing nature of the UK economy means that more people will need a route to higher skills if we are to compete in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

“For many school leavers, the traditional academic route - A-levels and a university degree - will be a passport to a great career. “But to meet this higher skills challenge, we also need to expand and promote apprenticeships and other forms of vocational education and training.

“These ‘learn-while-you-earn’ options, which provide top-quality training, avoid tuition fees and offer a job at the end, are increasingly attractive to young people and are highly valued by employers.

“But we need to fix our broken careers system so that all young people when leaving school and college are able to make what is the right choice for them.”

The British Gas poll, conducted in July, questioned 15-19-year-olds who are planning on going to university.

Skills minister Nick Boles said: “As this survey shows, school leavers are rightly considering an apprenticeship as a serious option when deciding their future.

“With over 1.8 million starts since 2010, and our reforms to improve their rigour and quality, apprenticeships are now a respected and rewarding route in to the world of work.”


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