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Edge out snobbery about apprenticeships

At Edge, a charity that promotes vocational education, we come into contact with many young people who have turned their lives around because of the opportunity to pursue an apprenticeship.

When 20-year-old Lucy Roullion left school, she was disillusioned and lacked ambition. After examining her options, she decided to pursue an apprenticeship and earn while learning. By the time she had completed her apprenticeship in business administration with the NHS, she felt confident and clear about her career path.

While cases like Lucy's are encouraging, the truth is that apprenticeships face a perception problem among parents.

In 2007, Edge commissioned a survey of 5,000 parents of children aged 11 to 15. The findings clearly indicate that, while parents are in favour of vocational learning - with more than two-thirds saying they would support introducing practical skills to the curriculum - they were less keen when it came to their own children.

In fact, fewer than one in 10 said their child would go on to undertake a vocational qualification or apprenticeship when they finished school, and as many as a fifth said that they would be disappointed if their child ended up in a vocational career.

These results are indicative of an "educational snobbery" that Edge is working to combat. Apprenticeships are an excellent opportunity for both the apprentice and the employer. They allow for the sort of focused, hands-on training that so many students can relate to, and enable young people to avoid the hefty student loans that come with university. At the same time, employers benefit from an enthusiastic addition to their workforce.

While it is an unhappy reality that parents too often favour academic routes, we remain optimistic about the future of apprenticeships as a growing number of people are exposed to their benefits.

Andy Powell, Chief Executive, Edge, London.

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