Careers disservice

Posted on 13 Jun 2011 by The Manufacturer

Biased careers advisors are bungling the potential of manufacturing for economic recovery. Ann Watson, managing director of awarding organisation, EAL (EMTA Awards Limited), speaks out.

The Government’s head of curriculum review, Tom Oates, called for half of all young people to complete an apprenticeship (03/06) and would like to see equal numbers choosing the apprenticeship route as studying for A-Levels.

While I share Mr Oates vision implicitly, careers advice in schools appears to fall woefully short of the mark so it’s little wonder more students choose university. With preference given to academic opportunities, I seriously question what information on apprenticeships is provided.

By supporting growth in UK manufacturing, the Government hopes to aid the country’s economic recovery and provide a quick-win to combat youth unemployment. For too long now, apprenticeships have been seen as the last resort for school leavers, best suited to those with low grades.

In reality however, the skills associated with higher level apprenticeships in industries such as engineering and manufacturing demands bright and able students.

We need to introduce accurate and impartial advice at a much earlier age to help students make informed choices when choosing what subjects to take at GCSE.

Teachers should include parents when advising students on the available options at 14 and post 16. By radically re-educating across the generations, we stand a chance of successfully altering the perception of vocational education in this country.

Employers too must play their part by engaging more with schools, students and parents. By doing so, they can demonstrate that there are worthwhile opportunities available.

Countries such as Germany with a strong manufacturing sector and high apprenticeship figures are hailed as economic success stories. The German model is the envy of most of the Western world but this success is not an accident.

The German school system is geared to delivering students with a mix of skills, and young people are actively encouraged to pursue the vocational route from an earlier age and the UK would do well to learn from this model.