09 AUG 2018

Life beyond ‘A’ levels

Suffering the anxious run-up to A-Level results day is an experience I've endured both as a student and as a mum, and once again the hopes of a University place for thousands rest upon the outcomes on 16th August.

But times they are a changing and there has been a 3.4% decrease in demand this year with overall University applications down by 16,000.

I strongly subscribe to the aspiration of a university place being available for all who choose that path. It was the route I selected back in the 80s because, at the time, it was the best option for me to pursue my career choice as a solicitor. Today, however, there is a healthy range of alternative portals into most careers and professions and University is no longer the best option for many people. For example; first-class apprenticeships now offer a direct path into almost any industry you can think of; from construction to banking and from law to healthcare.

Apprentices can earn while they learn, become an integral part of the workplace and create important career relationships with employers. They also have the chance to gain academic qualifications right up to the level of a master's degree, so nothing is out of reach.

Earlier this year my neighbour Tracey Crouch MP and I hosted the first Maidstone Apprenticeships Fair at Maidstone Leisure Centre. The event was a resounding success with over 50 employers and 500 local students coming together. We will be running another early next year and I welcome all interested employers to get in touch as soon as possible and become a part of an opportunity revolution.

No one size fits all in education, and it is vital that we train our people with a wide range of skills across the full spectrum of the modern workplace. Apprenticeships are a crucial part of this and I will be continuing to bang the drum.

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Helen's column

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