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Semta's Chief Executive Ann Watson shares her views on the latest news, policy, issues and events of interest to the engineering and advanced manufacturing sector. 

 

Thursday, 16 August 2018 00:00

It's not all about university - other options exist for those with A Levels

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Great news – the number of people getting A Level Physics results is up on last year, bucking the recent trend of decline. And in even better news, Physics results have improved too, with a higher proportion of A* grades being awarded and the cumulative percentage being awarded a C or above breaking the 70% barrier – bucking the general trend.

University isn’t the only option for what comes next, of course – there are a number degree apprenticeships available now, and it was pleasing to see Institute for Apprenticeships chief Sir Gerry Berragan promoting them in his blog piece this morning (although he didn’t mention any in engineering!). A recent study found that although three quarters of 11-16 year olds think it’s important to go to university to do well, that’s down on the 86% who thought so in 2013.

As employers look to spend some of that apprenticeship levy funding sitting in their online accounts, we will hopefully see a big increase in the numbers of degree apprenticeships they’re offering – especially in engineering, a sector where there is projected to be a big shift in the workforce towards having higher education-level skills in the medium-term. The numbers, according to Semta’s own data, will go up by almost 50,000 by 2023, or over 7%.

That 50,000 covers all higher education completers, not just those who go to university to get degrees, and we’ll have Institutes of Technology soon, offering technical education at Levels 4-5 for those who want to continue with their studies but don’t want to go off to university. Recent government research found that “current level 4 and 5 qualifications are viewed positively within the (engineering) sector” – so for young people who didn’t quite get the grades needed to study at degree level, or those who want to take a more technically-oriented qualification which they can be sure has employer backing, there is a way for them to continue on with their studies. This is dependent on whether we can get the right information across to them – the research also found that “a lack of information available about related progression routes into higher education and employment”.

It’s really only a lack of information and outdated perceptions that can hold back the young people getting their A Level results today. My message to them is: Whatever your results, and whatever you’re going to do next, remember that this is just the start of your journey, not the end. These results don’t define you and they are not the sole measure of your talent and your aptitude. If you want to be an engineer, there are lots of great routes into the sector, and if you have the determination, you will get there!

For young people thinking about an apprenticeship, our Apprenticeship Service has lots of great vacancies – they’re all posted on Get My First Job.

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