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Schools are 'blindly' steering students away from apprenticeships, businesses warn

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Schools do not understand the benefits apprenticeships can offer their students and careers advisers are “blindly” leading young people away from them, according to two-thirds of the firms that took part in a new survey.

According to a poll by the Electrical Contractors' Association (ECA), 63 per cent of companies do not think schools understand the advantages apprenticeships can bring to some of their students. Just one in 10 firms believes schools appreciate the benefits of apprenticeships.

When asked how effective schools careers advice was for students with an aptitude towards electrical work, 57 per cent said it was “not very helpful” or “very unhelpful”. Only a quarter felt it was “helpful” or “very helpful”.

The ECA surveyed 216 of its members. Carolyn Mason, the association's head of education and training, said the findings indicated that “far too many schools careers advisers are blindly leading our young people away from apprenticeships – even if an apprenticeship is the most suitable option for them”.

She added: “It’s concerning that all the benefits of engineering apprenticeships in particular – which naturally include being paid a wage, but also learning a skilled trade, gaining real-life working experience, and the possibility of significant career opportunities  – are not being communicated.”

A spokesman for the Association of Employment and Learning Providers said the findings came “as absolutely no surprise whatsoever”, adding: “That is one of the reasons why we have been pushing for a comprehensive careers service for all age groups in England.

“We have long campaigned for careers advice which takes account of the non-traditional academic routes, such as apprenticeships, because we know that awareness is really low.”

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