Apprenticeships ‘too important just to be an election promise’

After the Conservative Party joined Labour in pledging increased apprenticeship opportunities, the Institute of the Motor Industry has urged political parties to think carefully about how to improve such positions. Steve Nash, CEO of the IMI which represents the UK retail motor industry, is pleased to hear the latest political party promise about apprenticeships. But he’s concerned that the issue is just becoming one of the items on the list of ‘vote winner’ promises without, necessarily, addressing the challenge of how to attract young people to apprenticeships.

“We have concerns at the IMI about the Conservative’s proposal to cap benefits to six months for those aged 16-21. If this age bracket is forced into training/apprenticeships, they may do so under duress and, therefore, not be 100 per cent committed.  This, in turn, could deter employers who take on apprentices who do not have their heart in the vocation.

“Whilst we appreciate that the promises currently being made are all about attracting votes, we feel there should be more recognition of the dilemma that currently exists amongst young people in choosing whether to go to university or opt for an apprenticeship.  And, unfortunately, the negative attitude of parents towards apprenticeships compared to university education is probably the biggest hurdle to overcome.”

Recent IMI research found that over half (53 per cent) of parents want their child to go to university.  Only one in five said they would encourage their child to study a vocational programme.

“Many parents seem to be under the misperception that an apprenticeship won’t give their child good foundations for the future”, continued Steve Nash.  “But this doesn’t have to be the case.  For example, automotive apprentices can train in top class colleges and in cutting edge facilities.  And for a young apprentice in the motor industry there is the added advantage of earning while they learn. They can work towards one of 150 different job roles, in a well-paid, high tech industry without the worry of shackling themselves with student debt.  Apprenticeships in the motor sector are a fantastic option for anyone completing their GCSEs who doesn’t feel that staying on in the classroom is right for them.”

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