Norfolk's biggest college reacts to government's latest apprenticeships campaign
PUBLISHED: 18:00 17 January 2019 | UPDATED: 06:44 18 January 2019
Copyright © Keith Whitmore
College leaders in Norfolk have given their views on a new campaign designed to dispel "snobby attitudes" towards apprenticeships.
Launched by education secretary Damian Hinds, the Fire It Up initiative will promote apprenticeships among young people, parents and employers.
It will also ask school trusts to let vocational education providers speak to their students – and publish details of these interactions on their websites – to increase to amount of information available to young people about apprenticeships.
Mr Hinds said the apprenticeship system in the UK was “coming of age” with leading employers “waking up” to their possible benefits.
“The sad truth is that outdated and snobby attitudes are still putting people off apprenticeships which means they’re missing out on great jobs and higher salaries – many of them in the sorts of firms graduates look to land jobs with after university.
“It’s vital that we challenge people’s thinking about apprenticeships which is why the government’s new ‘Fire It Up’ campaign will aim to shift deeply held views and drive more people towards an apprenticeship,” he said.
City College Norwich offers apprenticeships on more than 20 courses from social care the construction and currently has more than 1,200 apprentices working with employers across Norfolk and Suffolk.
It also has a team of employer liaison staff who work with businesses to develop and promote its apprenticeship programmes.
Ed Rose, the college’s director of higher education and apprenticeships, said he “welcomed any push” to increase awareness of apprenticeships – but said opportunities with smaller businesses must also be highlighted.
“Nationally, the number of 16 to 18-year-old apprentices have significantly declined in recent years, however this is a trend that we are not experiencing in Norfolk.
“We have seen an increased number of 16 to 18-year-old apprentices studying with us which has been helped by the college’s relationships with local schools that allow us to show young people the career and progression opportunities that apprenticeships offer,” he said.
The government’s last major overhaul of apprenticeships, the apprenticeship levy – introduced in April 2017 as a levy on the largest employers to fund training – was met with a lukewarm reception.
It has since been criticised for being complicated to navigate and access, while some employers have used it purely to train existing senior staff rather than newcomers.
The Department for Education has expressed a goal to make sure apprenticeships are being promoted in schools and colleges alongside more traditional academic routes.