Middle-class parents should encourage children to do apprenticeships, says the Minister

Middle-class parents should encourage their children to do apprenticeships rather than go to university, a senior Treasury minister has said.

John Glen, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said apprenticeships can offer teenagers a better “return on investment” than university degrees.

In an interview with The Telegraph, he said that removing the stigma around apprenticeships is a priority for the Exchequer.

Parents who may traditionally focus on their children getting into the best university, “must also remember” that they want a “return on investment”, he said.

“I think what they want to focus on is results as well. I am more confident that apprenticeships offer a very significant return on investment.”

A campaign to raise the prestige of apprenticeships

Downing Street is launching a publicity blitz for apprenticeships this week with ministerial visits to businesses across the country as part of the Government’s mission to raise the profile of vocational training.

Mr Glen said he agreed that more young people from all backgrounds doing apprenticeships instead of university degrees would boost the UK’s economic growth and productivity.

Apprenticeships allow young people to develop “deeper skills” earlier than going to university, he said.

Mr Glen met apprentices at pharmaceutical giant Astrazeneca’s Macclesfield campus on Thursday.

After leaving school at 18, they chose to enter “learn while you earn” apprenticeships in areas including technological innovation, supply chains, cyber security and laboratory science research. They start on salaries of £21,500 a year and usually study for a degree qualification one day a week, without taking on any debt.

“New skills are needed and I think apprenticeships provide a very accessible way to develop those skills for the economy,” said Mr Glen.

He added: “What you often see with young people is that they are on a seemingly inexorable path to university. And the conversations I’ve had today have highlighted the fact that, although that could have been an option that many of these young people could have chosen, they chose not to, because they wanted to combining learning and paid work from day one – spending. one day a week on training.

“And so if you look at it from a reasonable lens of value for money and return on investment, then for some people, I think apprenticeships are what you need to do.”

Generational shift required

The son of an apprentice hairdresser and small horticultural business owner, Mr Glen, 48, MP for Salisbury and South Wiltshire, was the first in his family to go to university when he won a place at Oxford University to read Modern Contemporary. History.

He said there needs to be a generational change in how aspiring parents view apprenticeships. “I think they are [my parents] I saw progress when I went to university,” he said.

“I think it needs to be thought about and I think we need to treat everyone as someone who’s got options and I want people to understand that apprenticeships are quality options that are equal to — sometimes, for some people, better than — the step. that they might be thinking when they don’t really know what they’re studying.”

Universities accepted a record 277,315 UK 18-year-olds to start undergraduate degrees last year. Figures from the Department for Education show that only 38,480 teenagers started apprenticeships in England last year.

However, surveys have found that young people are increasingly worried about whether a university degree will provide good value for money, especially during a cost-of-living crisis. A third of young people now believe that a university degree is a “waste of time”, according to a poll published last week by the UPP Foundation and the Higher Education Policy Institute.

Radical reform out of the question

Ministers are considering how they can improve the accessibility and implementation of apprenticeships to encourage more businesses to take on apprentices, with some schemes becoming highly competitive as demand rises. Mr Glen said he wants to make sure employers feel “a bit more that taking on an apprentice is not a huge bureaucratic hurdle”.

However, he ruled out radical reform of the system.

He said: “I think one of the things people don’t like in business is constant change. I think we also have to get things right when there are changes and changes that could make it better, rather than always making radical changes.”

The Treasury is also planning a campaign to get more older workers to retrain to ensure they have the skills the economy needs.

“What we want is that we want more people in work and we want more people to develop skills during their careers,” said Mr Glen.

“Over a career of maybe 50 years it’s unrealistic to say that you’re going to stay in one role or one functional area out of all of that.

“And so I think one of the messages is: get trained, understand that you’re going to have to keep training.”

Apprenticeships are better value for money

Lifetime Loan Entitlement, due to be introduced in 2025, will give adult learners loan entitlement for the equivalent of four years of post-18 education.

The Government is trying to crack down on poor quality courses that leave students with debt without improving their job prospects. At the end of last year, new rules came into force which mean that universities and colleges will be fined up to £500,000 if their courses breach new minimum requirements for student outcomes.

Mr Glen said that young people who go to university need to be assured that “when they go to university they have an outcome in terms of, if they do well on that course, that there are options”.

Parents have a significant influence on a young person’s choice of higher or further education. But apprenticeships have consistently been found to have a lower reputation than university degrees. For some parents, they continue to make images of overalls and handicrafts.

However, there is growing recognition that certain apprenticeships, particularly those that allow you to gain a university degree during an apprenticeship, can provide better value for money.

Multiverse, a company that helps find apprenticeships at hundreds of businesses including Rolls-Royce, Mastercard, Travis Perkins and Trainline, said the average apprentice it works with earns between £26,000 and £30,000 a year after for him to complete his apprenticeship.

That’s 16 per cent higher than the average graduate salary of £24,000 and includes none of the student debt.

Advanced degree or degree apprenticeships are now available in sectors ranging from accountancy and engineering, to IT and digital marketing.

University debt

Georgia Wignall, 20, from Preston, an apprentice laboratory scientist at Astrazeneca, said she was drawn to the apprenticeship scheme because of her love of chemistry and concerns about taking on university debt without a job guarantee.

“Especially when you’ve got all that debt and there’s no guarantee you’ll have a job at the end of the debt. Because of this, you are learning and you also have the job. I’ve always preferred working to just learning so this was perfect.” She studies a degree in chemical sciences run remotely by Manchester City University and works and trains at Astrazeneca during the week.

The four-year scheme offers first-year apprentices an annual salary of £21,500.

Ryan Whittaker, 22, from Macclesfield, was offered a place at university to study Economics and Politics but turned down Astrazeneca’s technology innovation apprenticeship scheme when he was 18. He has since trained in data engineering, science the data and in digital transformation and began. distance Masters degree in AI last year.

“I love to implement anything I work on because it’s even better. So that’s the main reason I chose to come into AZ. Everything we work on from operations to R&D has implications [research and development] side of things as well.”

Mr Whittaker said he compares himself to friends who went to university, and they ask him for advice on giving presentations or drafting CVs to get a job. “It’s a bit like, maybe I’ve grown up a bit too fast,” he said. Digital apprentices at Astrazeneca have starting annual salaries of £21,500, with pay rises expected each year.

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