Poorer pupils are less likely to become apprentices than their wealthier peers, a report by Teach First has revealed.
Drawing from government data, the report shows that in seven out of England’s 10 regions, the proportion of young people taking an apprenticeship after key stage 4 and key stage 5 is smaller among those eligible for free school meals (FSM) than among those not eligible for FSM.
In Yorkshire and the Humber, just 4 per cent of young people began an apprenticeship after key stage 4 in 2013-14, compared to 7 per cent of other young people. In every region apart from Inner London, Outer London and the South East, wealthier students were more likely to be on an apprenticeship programme.
The report calls on the government to make the process of applying for apprenticeships easier, develop and improve its "Find an apprenticeship" website, and create a national, Ucas-style application system for young people.
A lack of information about apprenticeships, along with financial barriers, are believed to be the reasons for the lower proportions of poorer students in apprenticeships, it adds.
'Apprenticeships not second rate'
James Westhead, executive director of external relations at Teach First, said: “As a country we rapidly need to get over this completely false idea that all apprenticeships are second rate. Apprenticeships can offer an important route for young people to get into careers and industries with strong earning potential, but a combination of poor attitudes, low awareness and lack of financial support means disadvantaged young people are losing out across the country.
"While the government’s commitment to the agenda is clear, we need to remove the perceived barriers of low pay and benefits facing disadvantaged youngsters who wish to undertake an apprenticeship. And we need a clear and simple Ucas-style application system to ensure disadvantage does not determine destiny for young people.”
Mary Curnock Cook, Ucas Chief Executive said: “Teach First is right to highlight the need for students to have access to the same online information and application routes for apprenticeships as are in place for higher education.
This autumn Ucas will be launching a new search tool covering higher and degree Apprenticeship vacancies across the UK, alongside extensive information and advice to help young people make the right decision post-18. Our Ucas progress service already provides information on apprenticeship opportunities post-16.”
FE SPECIAL OFFER: click here to try out a TES Further Education subscription for just £1 for 4 weeks.
Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow TES FE News on Twitter, like us on Facebook and follow us on LinkedIn