School league tables should include apprenticeships to challenge the "negative stereotypes" associated with the programme, a new study has found.
The research, conducted by professor Louise Ryan at the University of Sheffield, found that a rethinking of school league tables, so they do not just focus on A-level results, could help improve the perception of apprenticeships among students and parents.
The study found that challenges, such as low pay for apprentices and scepticism of the programme in schools, still exist, with many people viewing apprenticeships as a “second chance” for those who have not done well at school. It recommends a number of measures that could help reduce the perceived stigma, including:
- Providing extra training and resources for careers advisers in schools, so that they can offer young people advice about a wide range of pathways.
- Creating a Ucas-style application process for apprenticeships.
- Improving the monitoring of apprenticeship accreditation to ensure training is meeting the required standards to address the skills gap.
- Increasing the minimum length of a course to 12 months and bringing training back into colleges.
The study also calls for incentives to be given to employers, so that they encourage progression from level 2 onwards, and that employers provide a proper living wage to their apprentices.
Professor Ryan said: “There is a need for a culture shift in the UK so that apprenticeships achieve a change of image and are valued as high-quality training among a wide range of students.”
She added: “The UK government is pumping billions of pounds into apprenticeship programmes, but there are tensions between the main aims for apprenticeships. On the one hand, apprenticeships are promoted as addressing the skills gap and training the next generation with in-demand skills, but they are also presented as second-chance education or training for those with poor academic achievement.”