Following the announcement from the Department for Education to substantially boost apprenticeships by listing opportunities on the UCAS portal, Caroline Turner, Director of Policy and External Relations at JTL, discusses why the government is acting now on apprenticeship figures.
The plans, announced in February, mean that thousands of apprenticeship opportunities will be listed alongside the usual undergraduate routes presented on the UCAS portal. This sets the groundwork for 2024, when UCAS will provide an entirely new system that allows young people to complete a streamlined application process for apprenticeships just as it already does for university routes.
This recent decision by the government is indicative of a far larger movement that has for years looked to improve the exposure of apprenticeship routes. It has previously seen fundamental policy changes such as the implementation of the Baker Clause and its revisions, as well as notable recruitment campaigns such as the government’s Career Starter Apprenticeships campaign.
It is a challenge, with UCAS’s own 2022 figures* showing that only 8% of pupils associated apprenticeships with leading to a good job, despite data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) for 2021-2022 revealing that though 80% of university graduates had reached employment, a proportionally larger 85% of apprentices had. Evidently, what has to be tackled is not the apprenticeships themselves, but the culture surrounding them.
Which is just what makes the government’s decision with UCAS decision so significant, as its chief executive, Clare Marchant, says herself: “Presenting students with all their choices in one place will not only transform the apprenticeship offering but create real parity by putting these options side-by-side with undergraduate courses.” *
At JTL, parity is all we could realistically strive for in governmental policy change. With an equal voice to that of traditional undergraduate routes, we may be able to shift the culture that has for so long put apprenticeships on the backfoot.
And now more than ever, it is clear why the government is choosing to give apprenticeships this much-needed boost. It is in reaction to the demand for newly skilled workers who have been put at the frontline of every initiative designed to lift this country out of its cost-of-living crisis and leave behind the current period of low-economic growth.
Whether it be domestic productivity, net-zero targets, foreign investment, or a buffer for the European labour shortage, each of these solutions, whether proposed by the government or their opposition, ultimately rely on a larger proportion of skilled individuals being produced for the UK workforce.
And those skilled workers create a workforce trained in the vital trade careers that JTL apprenticeships kickstart in the building services engineering sector. At JTL we deliver apprenticeships in building services engineering, electrical installations, plumbing and heating, gas and more, in order to prepare a new generation for the working needs of tomorrow.
We arm each of our learners with a complimentary toolkit, a large bank of free learning resources, a dedicated training officer to oversee their entire apprenticeship journey and a continuously revised training programme to ensure the high standards that JTL apprentices are known for.
Our dedication to our apprentices’ experience combined with our matching system for prospective apprentices and employers results in a high retention rate that we are proud of. At JTL, we understand that our contribution to learners is often only as important as our employers’ contribution, which is why we run our Employer Recognition Awards to celebrate outstanding employers just as we celebrate stand-out apprentices at our National Apprentice of the Year awards.
As we continue to tackle what has been a pervasive culture holding apprenticeships back, we can now hope that these new government announcements help to spread our own culture of professionalism, hard work, and support to perhaps become strong enough to rewrite the narrative on what the pathway to a ‘good job’ really is in the UK.
*Quote and figures sourced from the .gov website: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/apprenticeships-boosted-under-plans-to-broaden-ucas#:~:text=From%20this%20autumn%2C%20UCAS%20will,alongside%20an%20undergraduate%20degree%20application.
*UCAS statistics sourced from the UCAS reports page: https://www.ucas.com/data-and-analysis/undergraduate-statistics-and-reports/ucas-reports#where-next-improvingthe-journey-to-becoming-an-apprentice%E2%80%93-may2021
*HESA Statistics sourced from the HESA website: https://www.hesa.ac.uk/data-and-analysis/students