Last updated: 28.08.13

Apprenticeships 'must match standard of education'

Young people in the UK would benefit from vocational training that acts as a real alternative to higher education.

This is the view of Tim Hames, director general of the British Venture Capital Association (BVCA) who wrote in a post for the Telegraph that Britain is in need of a medium-term solution to the skills crisis that places the same emphasis on apprenticeships as academia.

He pointed to several examples of vocational training that have offered the younger generation opportunities that are as - if not more - beneficial to their career prospects as higher education, including Alliance Boots' two-year programme that provides apprentices with the chance to work within the finance, IT, marketing and supply chain sectors.

Thames Water has also rolled out a number of apprenticeships over the past 20 years, which allow young people to work with the latest engineering technologies, while sandwich company Pret a Manger has been hiring apprentices for the last five years and offering them full-time positions afterwards.

Mr Hames wrote: "What Britain needs is far more companies to provide apprenticeships which are a real education."

This comes after a study conducted by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills revealed 83 per cent of apprentices believe the training they have received has improved their employment prospects, while 72 per cent of companies also noted the benefits.

However, the BVCA spokesman pointed to the fact that just five per cent of organisations in the UK provide apprenticeships and a rise in this figure is urgently needed over the next ten years.

He advised enforcing an Apprenticeship Tax Credit, which would provide employers with cash towards the cost of taking on apprentices and could encourage smaller businesses that would otherwise struggle to afford them to hire new, younger recruits.

"It should not be the case that sole purpose of education between the ages of sixteen and eighteen is to allocate university places. Preparation for apprenticeships should be a large part of this as well," Mr Hames stated.