Apprenticeships are a “superior” way of working, apprenticeship and skills minister Gillian Keegan has said.
Speaking to City and Guilds’ youth engagement executive Lauren Roberts as part of National Apprenticeship Week, Ms Keegan said because apprentices are working within industry straight away, their learning is never out of date.
“[Apprenticeships are] a really good way to make sure that whatever you're studying, whatever your formal qualifications are in is always up to date because businesses will always be really up to date," she said.
“I love that way of learning as well, and I think it's a superior way of working, because things move so quickly that you're never putting in the time for something that's already out of date, because you're moving with it.”
Ms Keegan reflected on her own career and said her training as an apprentice had always meant she was “a bit ahead”.
Apprenticeship training 'is always up to date'
“I've only been an MP for three years, so most of my career I've spent in the business world, and in the world of international business," she said. "And I always felt I was a bit ahead and I always kept that lead. In my business career, I've had people from Oxford, from Cambridge, from Harvard, from the best schools in the world, and they all work for me with my apprenticeship in the car factory, and one day a week at Liverpool John Moores [University].
“That ability to get ahead, being in the workplace, learning things that are happening quite quickly and are quite fast-moving, you just can't replicate it, I don't think, easily in a classroom.”
When looking at the current cohort of apprentices and the disruption they’ve faced, Ms Keegan said they had built up huge resilience, and she hoped they would all “be back to learning and progressing as soon as possible”.
She said that, although “there was no doubt” things were hard for businesses at the moment, employers really valued apprentices and were working to give young people the opportunities.
Ms Keegan added that, in some ways, apprenticeships were still the “world’s best-kept secret” and said the government was working with schools to change this.
“When you meet people who've done a degree and then go on to do an apprenticeship to get into the workplace, they say, ‘Nobody told me.' We are working a lot now with schools, and making sure technical education and vocational education and different routes into the workplace are understood. I see apprenticeship, in many cases, as just a different route to the same career.”