The findings follow Government plans, as part of the Industrial Strategy, to establish a technical education system that is on a par with the UK’s academic system and news of a 59% decline in apprentices taking up trainee posts since the Apprenticeship Levy was introduced in April.
The survey showed concerns over the lack of information about technical and vocational career paths that schools offer. Over half of the public (56%) believe that school career advice is not adequate enough to enable students to make informed decision about their futures, with only a small proportion believing that schools offer the right advice (18%).
“More needs to be done to champion the opportunities that vocational careers can offer and overcome the cultural prejudices that parents might have,” said Peter Finegold, head of education and skills at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. “Both teachers and parents alike play an important role in influencing a student’s choices. We need to inspire more young individuals, and work with employers and teachers to change the perception of engineering apprenticeships so that it is seen as the fascinating and highly skilled career path that it is.”
There was broad support (79%) for initiatives already in place such as the STEM Insight scheme, where teachers spend one or two weeks in industry to enhance their understanding of the different career paths available in engineering and manufacturing.
When asked whether parents were aware if their child’s school had discussed technical training as a possible career path, only 28% of parents were aware that any such discussions had taken place.
Furthermore, only 53% of parents felt confident about explaining to their child what engineering is and what engineers do.