The Industry Apprentice Council has met with Skills Minister Matthew Hancock MP at the House of Commons to discuss Apprenticeships promotion – led by apprentices – and put forward their views on the Richards Review.

The committee of 13 industry apprentices, all aged between 18 and 24, attended the All-Party Parliamentary Apprenticeships Group (APPAG) to ask Mr Hancock how the government plans to ensure quality and promote the vocational pathway as an equal opportunity to higher education.

The IAC asked the Minister if he would meet with them so they could put forward their ideas on an advertising campaign, to raise awareness among parents, teachers and young people and highlight the great experiences available to apprentices as part of the vocational route.

Mr Hancock replied: “How could I say no?”

One IAC member who stood up to question the Minister said: “In the brief time we’ve had together as the IAC we have identified a severe lack of understanding in academic circles of apprenticeships and what they mean. There is a lack of careers advice for school pupils because of this. How would you tackle this?”

Mr Hancock replied: “The best way to get someone into a career is to make sure they get the information they need – and there can be lots of information available. But just having the information is not enough. It is about the quality of that information and being able to navigate your way through the system.

“For the first time, we have introduced destination data for people on Apprenticeships. We also need to make sure people have access to the national careers service in their area. And we need to make sure schools are properly regulated in their duty to provide careers advice – Ofsted will be going into schools in the summer to do this.”

Another IAC member said: “We were talking earlier about the Richard Review, specifically about the recommendation about a final assessment. We had mixed views, but my personal opinion is that if people are looking at doing an Apprenticeship and they see a pass / fail exam at the end of it, isn’t that going to put young people off?”

In response, Mr Hancock said: “I think if every apprentice spoke as eloquently as you then we would have succeeded.”

At the end of the session, another apprentice spoke about their own experiences at school: “I didn’t want to go into higher education. I thought going into an apprenticeship I could earn a wage and learn a skill and that was a good option. But at school, I didn’t get any information about Apprenticeships. And career fairs seem to be people “out for a jolly” rather than finding out more about Apprenticeships. What can be done to improve this?”

Mr Hancock responded: “We will find out more from Ofsted on how well schools are doing.”

Representatives of the IAC will be arranging to meet Mr Hancock to discuss his offer of support for their campaign activities.

The IAC was convened in partnership between EAL, the specialist awarding organisation for industry qualifications, and IMI Awards, the leading awarding body for the retail motor industry. Both organisations previously brought together the APPAG, to ensure Apprenticeships are discussed regularly among Parliamentarians and other key influencers.

The IAC, which gathers regularly to discuss the key issues affecting Apprenticeships, is made up of apprentices from some of the UK’s largest employers, including Airbus, BAE Systems, Caunton Engineering, DAF Trucks, Ford Dealerships, Ford GB, KMF, MBDA, National Grid, Nestlé and Vauxhall.

The IAC welcomes input from apprentices, learners and the wider community. Questions or comments can be made through the group’s Facebook page.

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