A new report by the House of Lords social mobility committee says that young people who do not study for A-levels or degrees are “overlooked and left behind”.
The research, which indicates that young people are let down by over emphasis on higher education and a lack of training options, supports recent findings by APHC which reveal that the majority of people believe that apprenticeships should be encouraged as an alternative to attending university.
The Lords report argues that there is a strong focus on numbers entering university, despite the fact that the majority of young people choose not to continue their academic studies after the age of 16. In England in 2013-14, a total population of 1,285,800 16 and 17 year olds, only 47% (601,500 people) started A-levels, whereas 53% (684,300 people) did not. APHC’s research reflects this need for schools to promote careers in trades alongside university, with 86% of people agreeing that school leavers should be encouraged to consider an apprenticeship as an alternative to higher education and only 2% disagreeing.
Malcolm Trobe, leader of the ASCL Head Teacher’s Union said: “The intense academic focus of the existing curriculum is too narrow for some students and a new approach is needed. Careers advice and education are being delivered in a way which means that too many young people simply drift into further studies or their first job, which too often has no real prospect of progression.”
Another important point highlighted by the report is that young people can become disheartened by the heavy focus on academic results in schools, especially those who are middle-ability achievers, something which in turn can have an impact on social mobility. This aligns with APHC’s findings, in which 19% of respondents acknowledged that higher education is not suited to everyone, with other perceived benefits including a better chance of getting a job, the opportunity to gain a broader experience of life within the workplace and the chance to learn a useful skill.
John Thompson, chief executive at APHC said: “We welcome this new report from the House of Lords, which supports our recent findings about attitudes towards careers in trades in England and Wales. We hope that government will take heed of this information by making it a priority to promote apprenticeships as an alternative to higher education in our schools.”