Many organisations are challenged with increasing their apprentice numbers due to the introduction of the apprenticeship levy. Businesses face the ultimatum of use it or lose it??levy left unspent decorates the pockets of others. Companies want to use the resource for their own benefit and the scramble to increase apprentice intake has begun.
Companies look to school leaver talent to furnish these newly created roles. Heres where the difficulty begins. Education does not sing off the same hymn sheet as employers. The message that filters down to students is one of higher education and isnt reflective of careers available.
Teachers, rightly, are a trusted mentor for young people. However, people who teach enter their profession by way of school, college, university and then back to school. This circuitous route means their advice is biased towards the journey they took. Teachers will be the first people to admit theyre not careers advisors, but encouragement offered by teachers carries so much weight. They influence.
This is reflected in a study which found 8% of students were encouraged to follow an apprenticeship route. By comparison, 35% were encouraged to become teachers. This 8% are then the students who Google apprenticeships as part of their careers research. These are the students who then find your newly-designed apprenticeship career pathway website, the job advertisements for your apprenticeship vacancies and your company profile on school leavers careers advice websites.
They are also, however, likely to be the people teachers couldnt envisage at university. They are the people deemed non-academic. They are the people asked have you considered an apprenticeship? in a patronising your-not-university-material kind of way.
With the government increasing apprenticeship standards and pushing for more rigorous criteria, students who lack academic ability are likely to fail. Apprenticeships arent the safe-haven for educations strugglers. Apprenticeships are lucrative, rewarding career pathways with exacting standards. In fact, over the course of the last parliament, apprenticeship places increased by 1 million, but failure rates rocketed to over 30%. The increased rigour was cited as reason for this.
Increasing apprentice intake is a pointless endeavour if the majority tumble by the wayside before they contribute to your business. Spending levy money on people unlikely to become long-term employees is a false economy. Itll cost more to mop up poor performance than the instant benefit from spending the levy pot. A better strategy is to recruit quality, which is difficult when the best are encouraged to go to university.
Employers need to push to get their message heard within school walls. Colleges are mandated by Ofsted to involve employers within their curriculum, but mechanisms for achieving this are far from clear. By embedding employer thinking into education, the 15 year old who has her heart set on an engineering degree may be alerted to the existence of Higher Level Engineering Apprenticeships and an alternative route into her career of choice.
The only way to drive up quality is to involve employers in education. Employers need to shape the messages young people receive regarding careers. Only then will the best be attracted towards apprenticeships. Students want to discover career pathways that are open to them. They want to feel valued. Limiting the supply of advice will impact the quality of employee we see in the labour market.
Kloodles mission is to embed employers within the curriculum. Find out more here.