Maths and English hold back entrants to apprenticeships

5 March 2018 | By James Kenny

The perception of construction as an apprenticeship pathway for young people is improving, however maths and English skills are still a barrier to entry, according to a survey by housebuilder Redrow.

Released to coincide with National Apprenticeships Week, Redrow’s second annual apprenticeship report, Building better apprenticeships: Delivering skills to drive UK productivity, found that 62% of young people were considering a job in the sector, a 14% increase on the last year’s survey.

The report questioned 2,000 parents and 15-21-year-olds and 167 of its own apprentices and benchmarked the findings against last year’s responses.

The results this year show an 8% increase in young women (24%) considering a career in construction compared to just 16% in 2017. This coincides with a 19% fewer young people believing that the industry is dominated by men with only 36% of young people saying this was true compared to 55% in 2017.

A total of 63% of young people this year stated that someone at school had outlined how apprenticeships work and their associated benefits. This is supported by a 10% increase in young people who said they had received high-quality careers advice, information and guidance on a wide range of careers from their respective schools. Last year the figure stood at just 17%.

This year’s findings also highlighted some fundamental barriers that remain in place for young people, including failure to achieve at least a grade C at GCSE level in maths and English, which is a requirement of completing their qualification. English and maths tuition as part of an apprenticeship is not fit for purpose and is too theoretical, says the report.

Low wages were also referenced as the biggest barrier to entry into an apprenticeship with 42% of young people saying that an increase in first year wages would incentivise them into the system. 

Further financial implications were expressed by parents with more than one in 10 (12%) saying that the loss of family benefits when their child started an apprenticeship (including cuts to child benefit and child tax credits) was a problem.

Karen Jones, group HR director at Redrow, said: “This year’s results illustrate that apprenticeships and careers in construction are being viewed in a more positive light. Efforts by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Apprentices and initiatives such as Go Construct from the CITB can be credited with helping to make these encouraging strides.

She added: “Theory-based classroom learning isn’t the right teaching method for every apprentice and with a third of people failing to complete their apprenticeships, it is more important than ever that we identify why this might be the case.

“Ensuring that maths and English subjects are taught in a way that is as relevant to an apprentice’s role as possible would be a good place to start.


Government failure to improve quality of education.

Sheila, 5 March 2018

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