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Careers advice biased against training

Schools are reluctant to advise pupils to take up modern apprenticeships, preferring them to stay on and study for A-levels instead, a survey of trainees has revealed.

Two-thirds of 614 first-year apprentices surveyed said they were advised by their teachers to remain in full-time education, though almost half had wanted to leave at 16 to start their training.

The careers advice given at school seemed to them to be influenced more by what the school wanted than by what would be best for them, according to more than a third of the advanced apprentices questioned.

A total of 1,128 modern apprentices in engineering took part in the survey by SEMTA, the science, engineering and manufacturing national training organisation.

The study also revealed the "very high standard" of students attracted to engineering modern apprenticeships. Of 517 advanced MAs questioned, nearly six out of 10 reported they had passed eight or more GCSEs at grade A* to C before starting their training, and almost a quarter had achieved at least one A-level.

Of all the MAs, 78 per cent said more young people would be likely to choose an engineering apprenticeship if it was accepted for entry to university.

Asked how important it was to obtain further qualifications, such as a degree, after finishing their apprenticeships, nearly 80 per cent rated it as either quite or very important, though part-time study while continuing to work was the preferred option for most.

Just under a third of all apprentices would opt for a full three or four-year degree. The choice of course favoured by most apprentices was a Higher National Certificate or Diploma, preferred by more than half of all trainees and twice as popular as a two-year foundation degree.

John Berkeley, SEMTA's senior research fellow at Warwick university, said the survey demonstrated "the very high standard of many of the young people attracted to work-based training in this vital sector of the economy".

He added: "The voice of the trainee can be one of the most powerful and persuasive in focusing attention on key policy issues and demonstrating the need for change".

More than four out of five modern engineering apprentices enjoy their training and would recommend their course to a friend, according to the results of the national trainee feedback system.

Overall impressions of training were very favourable, with 84 per cent describing it as at least as good as expected.

SEMTA's national trainee feedback system is said to be the first online system of its kind, designed to enable employers and training providers to conduct comprehensive surveys of their trainees.

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