As an enthusiastic advocate of apprenticeships – and as managing director of Learning Curve Group, a training provider which specialises in vocational education – a survey which has found 41 per cent of young people favour them over a degree came as little surprise.
For experience tells me they provide a richness of scope and opportunity – both in the immediate and long-term – at least equal to that of other educational and skills routes.
It’s not that degrees are not worthwhile, simply that there is a tendency for schools – backed by Government policy of the past three decades - to prefer the university path over others.
Yet those embarking on an apprenticeship have career goals and ambitions as clearly defined as anyone and are just as likely to be hard-working and committed to attaining success.
They are paid while they learn and, generally, do not embark upon them lightly - an apprenticeship is in no way a stop-gap option.
This modern perception of a more traditional skills route, as found in British Gas’ recent survey of 1,000 young people, is gaining increasing national emphasis and momentum, with the Government now actively promoting them.
Indeed, with a Government survey also finding employers rate apprentices far higher than they do those with other qualifications, ministers are rightly taking steps to increase the country’s estimated 440,000 apprentices.
Apprenticeships are vital to the North East’s future economic strength, as there is nothing more important than a workforce trained with the specific skills needed by industries and businesses here on our doorstep.
Bosses in manufacturing, engineering and construction, sectors where there is an acknowledged skills gap, are crying out for new skilled workers. They know apprenticeships provide them with a direct link to employees who are right for the job.
Indeed, a good provider of an apprenticeship – whether a college or a specialist company such as Learning Curve Group - will match learners to businesses which want to expand.
Delivered mainly in the workplace, they provide the apprentice with a release for their talents and the employer with workers imbued with practical skills and proven dedication.
The choice of apprenticeship is wide, and Learning Curve Group runs them in construction - which includes painting and decorating, joinery, bricklaying and plastering - as well as health and social care, customer service, business and administration, cleaning and support services, team leading, and management.
They are continually fine-tuned to ensure they meet the needs of employer and apprentice.
As the Group MD of a company which Ofsted rated as having “outstanding outcomes for leaners” I am firmly in accordance with the 41 per cent of those 15 to 19-year-olds polled who said they had considered becoming an apprentice, and with the 28 per cent who thought choosing this route over a degree would increase their chances of landing a job.
Brenda McLeish is the Managing Director of Learning Curve Group which is celebrating a decade in business. To find out more about their range of services visit www.learningcurvegroup.co.uk .