Duke of York: Apprenticeships are a 'step in the right direction'

The Duke of York compares his pilot training with an apprenticeship, and says not going to university 'shouldn't be a barrier'

Eleanor Busby

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Getting young people to consider apprenticeships is a “step in the right direction”, the Duke of York has said.

Apprenticeships give students a skill that makes them worth more in the workplace, the Duke argued.

Speaking to Tes at the Duke of York Award for Technical Education ceremony at the St James’s Palace, he said: “I think if we can encourage young people to think about apprenticeships and get themselves skilled in something before they get necessarily educated, it’s a step in the right direction.”

The Duke added: “If you get an apprenticeship and you then get to go to university, nine times out of 10 your employer will pay for your university education, which therefore resolves the problem of student debt to some extent. So there are advantages in doing apprenticeships, but actually an apprenticeship gives you a skill and a basis upon which you can then expand your career in any different direction as you so choose.”

Last month, new government figures revealed that the number of people starting apprenticeships dropped significantly in the first three months after the introduction of the apprenticeship levy. 

'I did an apprenticeship'

After giving out awards to students from five university technical colleges – Central Bedfordshire, Medway, Leigh, Oxfordshire and Reading, the Duke spoke to Tes about his own personal experiences.

The Duke, patron of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, said: “I did an apprenticeship in many respects. I didn’t go to university. I went to pilot training, which was an apprenticeship, and then the military career carried on from that.

“So not going to university was not a barrier to me. It shouldn’t be a barrier – not going to university. I think that earning yourself a skill – whatever that skill is – makes you worth that much more in the workplace, not only to yourself but also to your employer.”

Picture credit: Chatham House

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Eleanor Busby

Eleanor Busby is a reporter at TES 

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