Will raised school leaving age hit apprentice numbers?
Steve Nash, chief executive of the Institute for the Motor Industry, is calling for government and education bodies to ensure that schools are giving the most impartial advice to young people, given that the mandatory education or training participation age is now raised to 18.
“It is fantastic that young people now need to continue in some form of education or training until they are 18”, said Steve Nash. “But, with pupil quotas vital for schools to secure funding in the face of continuing budget cuts, we have a serious concern that young people will not necessarily be given the most impartial advice. The Government has set a very bold target of 3 million new apprenticeship starts by 2020 – and backed this up with the latest announcement to put vocational routes on a par with academic qualifications. But the target could be pretty hard to achieve if the number of young people available to start apprenticeships is reduced.
“Of course, 18 year olds can still go into apprenticeships once they have taken their A-levels, although funding to support vocational learning decreases at ages 19 plus, which is something that needs to be considered. But what concerns us most is what will happen to the 16 year olds who are right now taking their GCSE examinations. In the automotive retail sector alone we know that there are tremendous opportunities for 16 year olds to get into the workplace, whilst still continuing their education through apprenticeships. But are schools giving these young people clear, impartial advice about the options at the age of 16? Or are we going to see the numbers of those progressing to A-levels remain high because it makes sense for schools’ quotas for them to stay on rather than continue their education in an apprenticeship? The consequences for businesses looking to recruit apprentices could be quite severe.
“As the economy continues to improve there is a clear need for new talent which the Government’s commitment to apprenticeships certainly reflects. But it’s vital, for this to succeed, that young people truly understand the options available to them.”
The IMI is currently undertaking research to understand how careers advice is being provided to young people, which will be released later in the summer.