Delivering better apprenticeships

A new poll published by the Sutton Trust today showed that a growing proportion of young people are more interested in starting an apprenticeship than going to university.

As one of the largest and most established training providers in the North West we continue to help more students than the average provider, and we’ve seen a 7% increase in apprenticeship starts this year. However there is room for improvement.

The poll highlighted disconnect between young people’s interest in apprenticeships and the advice they’re offered. The quality of available careers education, information, advice and guidance in schools is critical. And this is something we must address if we want to meet the skills demands of our future workforce.

The Greater Manchester Apprenticeship Company (GMAC), which turned two last week, has been a successful and innovative partnership that has helped to address some of these challenges. 

Since it was established, the project has achieved 565 apprenticeship starts. This has been achieved through improvements to the quality of careers education, information, advice and guidance delivered to 16-18 year olds through an online self-help portal ‘This is Me’. It has ensured that study programme learners know about Apprenticeships and understand how they could support their careers, revolutionising apprenticeship progression across the region.

Our Careers Inspiration team, meanwhile, has delivered 90 events this year in partnership with key employers from Greater Manchester and across the UK, including Network Rail, CDL Software, SB Rail, HMRC and Kuits Solicitors. It has been a key initiative in increasing the number of encounters a young person has with employers while in education, an important element in improving life and work readiness.

But more needs to be done and on a wider scale. The government’s latest data on apprenticeship starts showed a 29% reduction in start volumes from August to March. Although there will be some uplift in these figures once all the data has worked its way through the system, there will still be a downturn when compared to 2016/17, and the government’s target of 3 million apprentices by 2020 is still a way out of reach.  

We need to act now and I look forward to using our insights to engage in the debate.

Jayne Worthington

MD - GC Education & Skills