Jul 2014 / Learners

Published – Western Mail, Education Wales

Wales’ leading training provider has described a shift in public perception towards apprenticeships as every welcome news indeed.

Survey results released by Ipsos Mori this week revealed UK youngsters think that degree level apprenticeships are better for future careers prospects than a traditional university diploma.

The study, which polled more than 1,7000 people aged between 16 and 25 found that only two in 10 respondents believe a traditional degree would be better than a degree “level apprenticeship“ as opposed to 34% who supported the latter option.

The research also revealed that more than half of young people aged 11-16 said they would be interested in an apprenticeship rather than going to university if it was available in a job they wanted to do.

Wales’ largest training provider ACT Training offers a range of opportunities including traineeships, apprenticeships, higher apprenticeships and essential skills training in numeracy and literacy.

Managing Director Andrew Cooksley said: “It is true that developments within our university system, and increasing recognition that different learning needs apply from one individual to another, has seen the profile of apprenticeships rise in recent years as a valid and viable route to employment across the board.

“Research also shows us employers believe apprenticeships have made their firms more competitive and led to higher productivity, making the apprenticeship an ideal partnership model for learners and business leaders still facing numerous challenges posed by the UK economy today.”

He added: “This is a theory that has certainly been experienced at ground level by those working with ACT Training to further the skills and development of learners across Wales.

“ACT Training welcomes over 9,000 people through our doors every year and as Wales’ largest training provider we find the news that this shift in perception is beginning to take hold across the UK very welcome indeed.”

On Tuesday Labour leader Ed Miliband proposed his vision for ‘technical degrees’“ putting vocational subjects on an equal footing with traditional academic degrees.

Mr Miliband said he will work with universities and employers to create such high status qualifications.

Technical degrees will help to drive a high wage, high skill, high quality economy, said Mr Miliband.

The proposals set out an education pathway for vocational rather than academic subjects.

It suggests that under Labour, university expansion would be focused on vocational training.

Graham Morgan, director of the South Wales Chamber of Commerce, said the percentage of businesses looking to either retain or increase their existing workforce over the next three months was at a seven year high.

He said: “Thankfully, we are seeing more further education institutions introducing vocational training courses for young people and, as a result, businesses are now willing to take on people at 16 or 18, rather than at 21 or 22 when they have finished their degree.

“It’s important we build on these first steps, though and the private sector and academia work together to ensure that our schools, colleges and universities are equipping people with the right skills so they are readily employable after finishing their education.

Reacting to Labour’s technical degrees proposals, NUT general secretary Christine Blowern said: “There certainly needs to be a serious debate about vocational and academic education in this country.

“We must however guard against pushing young people into specific pathways at too early an age. Pupils will develop interests and strengths at different stages, so deciding on a specific route at 14 is too young.”