More must be done to encourage apprenticeships, says council report

Malvern Gazette: We need more apprentices, say council We need more apprentices, say council

MORE must be done to encourage young people to take up apprenticeships, according to a key Worcestershire County Council report.

An in-house review has just been published revealing how a surge in apprenticeships has boosted the economy, reduced the unemployment rate and done wonders for teenagers.

Now a series of new recommendations have been made for where the county should be going to make even greater headway on it.

The report says:

- Schools in Worcestershire must accept career advice "as a major priority" despite financial pressures

- A new taxpayer-funded marketing campaign should be launched in the county to dispel any "negative perceptions" around "cheap labour" and promote past success

- The council must work more closely with schools to ensure further education is not pushed as "the only route for progression"

- Visits should be made to schools in Worcestershire by role models who can promote apprenticeships, and notice boards should have details on the value of them, how they work and publicise famous people who started off their careers via one

- The UK should follow the model of Germany, where apprenticeships have higher value and esteem attached to them, as opposed to university

The report, which runs to 26 pages, is being sent to the council's Conservative leadership to see if it is prepared to back it with any funds.

It reveals how huge efforts to create more apprenticeships in Worcestershire, backed by your Worcester News, has paid off, rising 110 per cent in two years.

In 2011 it stood at 2,000 but the figure has continued to rise and is on track to surge past 7,000 this year.

The report says in 2011/12, 71 per cent of apprentices completed their course.

It also reveals that research by Warwick University on behalf of the council has flagged up concerns from young people often viewing apprenticeships "negatively", possibly as a result of poor careers advice.

It also says that despite the surge in popularity, a survey of 3,000 people by Worcestershire's Youth Cabinet revealed that only 25 per cent of pupils felt their schools promoted apprenticeships.

The report says the council should have "grave concerns" about the data, which will be debated by the Conservative cabinet this spring.

It also says despite pupil's views, "excellent advice and guidance" is still available in schools, suggesting that the message might not be getting through to enough pupils.

The report was led by Councillor Ken Pollock, who chairs the economy, environment and communities scrutiny panel.

Councillor Simon Geraghty, deputy leader and cabinet member for economy, skills and infrastructure said: "I think it's an excellent piece of work and there's obviously things for us to pick up."

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