Pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland recently received their GCSE results.
While some will go on to do A-Levels, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) says more must be done to make pupils aware of other opportunities that are open to them — such as apprenticeships and (from next year) T-Levels.
FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said (www.fsb.org.uk
): “Each year, pupils will make critical decisions about how their further education, which for some will mean going on to study A-Levels.
However, while that may suit some pupils entering Sixth Form, it doesn’t help others who may thrive far better elsewhere.
Throughout the 2018/19 academic year, new apprenticeship starts were only marginally up (6.6%) on the 2017/18 intake, but this compares to a 30% fall from the 2016/17 academic year in England.
“The Education Secretary must take urgent action now, to shore up the vital funding that small firms need to take on an apprentice.
“There are serious concerns about the likely exhaustion of the apprentice levy budget and the consequences for non-levy paying employers, which is why the forthcoming spending review is crucial to ensuring that funds are replenished.
He must also do more to reduce the upfront costs attached to the recruitment of apprentices.
Our research shows that the biggest challenge attached to engaging with apprenticeships is the recruitment of an apprentice; 42% of smaller businesses with apprentices are struggling with this.
“From September 2020, the introduction of T-Levels in England will be another avenue that pupils can use to educate and train themselves for the future, but the Government must do more to raise awareness of T-Levels among smaller businesses and make work placements as easy as possible for smaller businesses to engage with, to ensure that the system doesn’t fail before it even starts.”