Many commentators have blamed high tuition fees for a falling number of young people applying for university, raising fears of a lack of social mobility. But DTL points out that school leavers give other reasons too, including that they don’t enjoy studying or don’t think they have the necessary academic skills for university. Contributor John Kerr, Operations Director – DTL.
The training company says that apprenticeships have the capability, not just to provide an alternative to university but also to address the wider issues. Instead of racking up student debt, apprentices earn while they learn, and apprenticeships provide other ways of learning for those who aren’t suited to academia.
Apprenticeships can also generate social mobility, even beyond what might be expected from gaining a practical qualification and a well-paid job. As an organisation that believes in providing a holistic educational experience, we support many young people who have fallen behind with academic learning. Crucially, that includes ensuring that apprentices attain satisfactory levels of literacy and numeracy.
Ensuring students attain a set level of literacy and numeracy is a requirement made of apprenticeship providers by the educational watchdog Ofsted, and DTL has invested in technology and teaching to ensure that apprentices reach the levels they need, not just to attain their qualification but also to equip them for life.
Clearly, people who have poor literacy or numeracy, or both, are going to be disadvantaged. This is a significant step in giving them social mobility. With these crucial core skills and the confidence of having completed an apprenticeship, they might well go on to get a university degree or similar-level qualification, he points out.
This is much more than a question of meeting the requirements of the regulator. You can see this in our response to another Ofsted instruction. We have pioneered the introduction of safeguarding, ensuring that young people are safe in the workplace and the training environment.”
DTL’s latest Industry Skills Forum on the subject brought together leading figures in HR in the utilities and construction sector, to discuss safeguarding and the government’s Prevent initiative, which requires education providers to play their part in ensuring young people aren’t recruited into extremism.