Middle-class parents should encourage their children to do an internship instead of going to university, a senior Treasury minister has said.
John Glen, chief secretary of the Treasury, said apprenticeships may offer a better “return on investment” for teens than college degrees.
In an interview with The Telegraph, he said that removing the stigma around apprenticeships is a priority for the Treasury.
Parents who have traditionally focused on getting their kids into a top college “also need to remember” that they “want a return on investment,” he said.
“I think they also want to focus on results. What I trust more and more is that the learnings offer a return on investment that is very significant”.
Campaign to increase the prestige of apprenticeships
Downing Street is launching a publicity blitz for apprenticeships this week with ministerial visits to companies across the country as part of the Government’s mission to raise the profile of vocational training.
Mr Glen said he agreed that if more young people of all backgrounds take up apprenticeships rather than university degrees, it will boost UK economic growth and productivity.
Apprenticeships offer young people the opportunity to develop “deeper skills” earlier than if they went to university, he said.
Glen met trainees at the Macclesfield campus of pharmaceutical giant Astrazeneca on Thursday.
After leaving school at the age of 18, they chose to join “learn while you earn” apprenticeships in areas including technological innovation, supply chains, cyber security and scientific laboratory research. They start with salaries of £21,500 a year and typically study for a degree one day a week, without incurring any debt.
“New skills are required and I think apprenticeships provide a very accessible way to develop those skills for the economy,” Glen said.
He added: “What you often see with young people is that they are seemingly on an inevitable path to go to college. And the conversations I’ve had today have underscored the fact that while that might have been an option that many of these young people could have chosen, they chose not to, because they wanted to combine learning and paid work from day one: spending a day a week in training.
“So if you look at it through the fairly reasonable lens of value for money and return on investment, then for some people I think learning is what they need to do.”
Necessary generational change
Mr Glen, 48, MP for Salisbury and South Wiltshire, is the son of an apprentice hairdresser and small horticultural business owner who was the first in his family to go to university when he won a place at the University of Oxford to read Modern Historia.
He said there needs to be a generational shift around how aspiring parents view learning. “I think they [my parents] he saw progress when I was going to college,” he said.
“I think you need to think about that and I think we need to treat each individual as someone who has options and I want people to understand that apprenticeships are high quality options that are equivalent to, sometimes for some people, better than learning. qualification. they might be contemplating when they don’t really know what they are studying.
Last year universities accepted a record 277,315 British 18-year-olds to start their university studies. Figures from the Department for Education show that just 38,480 of the teenagers started working as apprentices in England last year.
However, surveys have found that young people are increasingly concerned about whether a college degree will offer 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 survey published by the UPP Foundation and the Institute for Higher Education Policy last week.
radical reform discarded
Ministers are considering how they can improve the accessibility and operation of apprenticeships to encourage more companies to hire apprentices, with some schemes becoming intensely competitive as demand increases. Glen said he wants to make sure employers “feel a little more that it’s not a big bureaucratic hurdle to hire an apprentice.”
However, he ruled out a radical reform of the system.
He said: “I think one of the things that people in business don’t like is constant change. I think we also need to fix things where there are tweaks and changes that can make it better, instead of making radical changes all the time.”
Treasury is also planning a campaign to get more older workers retrained to ensure they have the skills the economy needs.
“What we want is more people to work and we want more people to develop skills throughout their career,” Glen said.
“Over the course of a career of maybe 50 years, it’s unrealistic to say you’re going to stay in one role or one functional area for all of that.
“And I think one of the messages is: train, realize you’re going to have to keep training.”
Apprenticeships best value for money
A lifetime loan entitlement, to be introduced in 2025, will provide adult students with a loan entitlement equivalent to four years of education after age 18.
The government is trying to clamp down on shoddy courses that saddle students with debt without improving their job prospects. New rules came into force late last year, meaning universities and colleges face fines of up to £500,000 if their courses breach the new minimum requirements for student results.
Mr. Glen said young people going to college need to be sure “that when they go to college they’re going to get an outcome in terms of, if they do well in that course, that leads to them having options.”
Parents have a significant influence on a young person’s choice of higher or higher education. But apprenticeships have consistently been found to have a lower reputation than university degrees. For some parents, they continue to conjure up images of overalls and manual labor.
However, there is a growing recognition that some apprenticeships, particularly those that enable you to earn a university degree during the course of an apprenticeship, may be better value for money.
Multiverse, a company that helps secure apprenticeships at hundreds of companies 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 completing their learning.
That’s 16 per cent higher than the average graduate salary of £24,000 and doesn’t include student debt.
Undergraduate or graduate apprenticeships are now available in sectors ranging from accounting and engineering to IT and digital marketing.
Georgia Wignall, 20, of Preston, a laboratory scientist trainee at Astrazeneca, said she was drawn to the apprenticeship scheme because of her love of chemistry and anxiety about taking on university debt without the guarantee of a job.
“Especially when you have all that debt and there’s no guarantee of a job at the end of it. While here, you are learning and you also have the job. I have always preferred working to just learning, so this was perfect.” She studies a degree in chemistry online from Manchester Metropolitan University and works and trains at Astrazeneca for the rest of the week.
The four-year plan 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 it down to join Astrazeneca’s technology innovation apprenticeship scheme when he was 18. Since then, he has trained in data engineering, data science and digital transformation and started a remote master’s degree in AI last year.
“I really like to apply everything I work on because I retain it much better. That is the main reason why I chose to come to AZ. Everything we’re working on has implications from operations to R&D. [research and development] side of things too.”
Whittaker said she compares herself to friends who have gone to college and ask her advice on how to give a presentation or write a resume to find a job. “It’s a bit like, maybe I’ve grown a bit too fast,” he said. Digital apprenticeships at Astrazeneca have starting annual salaries of £21,500, with salary increases expected every year.