Young people typically have a limited understanding of the local job market and which sectors they’d like to work in. Yet they’re required to make key decisions in their pursuit of qualifications and training needed to build careers. The result, as it stands, is a major disconnect between the careers or training routes young people are interested in and those the economy needs.
Supply Chain and Logistics is one of the key areas of demand. The lack of skilled professionals in the sector is something that’s being discussed more widely of late. Paired with the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, people are now giving apprenticeships more of the attention they deserve. However, this doesn’t necessarily extend to the young people who need to be targeted in order to start closing the skills gap and mitigating the ever-approaching labour shortages.
The disconnect between aspirations and economic needs stretches as far back as primary school. Drawing the Future found that as young as 7, children are forming ideas about what they would ‘like to be’. After sportsperson, the top aspirations are dominated by degree-level professions like teacher, vet, doctor and scientist. In contrast, logistics-related jobs like driver or haulier were chosen by just 1.1% of children.
This comes as no surprise. 7 to 11-year-olds are typically influenced by the media, with TV, film and radio listed by 76% of children who didn’t know someone in their chosen profession. However, by the age of 15 to 16, the pattern is still strong. Over 20% of respondents listed careers in culture, media and sports, with an actual market demand of below 3%.
In contrast, the demand for transport-related occupations was around 4% but had a fraction of a percentage choosing this career.
Where the problem lies
A large contributor to the problem is awareness. There is not only a lack of knowledge in schools about certain careers, but also the alternative routes of education. According to Education and Employers, only 15% of parents report their child receiving any information other than that for universities.
One reason that’s put forward is the teachers’ experiences themselves. They lack the confidence and knowledge for promoting the apprenticeship pathway because very few teachers have personal experience of coming through the route themselves. Instead, they can share their experience of university which by and large convinces students that this is the best or only option.
As a result, both parents and students see apprenticeships as an inferior alternative in many cases. That’s why 36% of employers listed schools and colleges as the main barrier to students becoming apprentices. It’s no surprise to find out that just 121,250 (24.6%) of apprenticeship starts in 2016-17 were under 19, compared to 272,330 university applications by 18-year-olds alone.
Not only that, but young people – and their parents – have a lack of understanding about what kind of apprenticeships are on offer. The 2017 Apprenticeship Perception Poll found that 52% percent of parents and 39% of young people saw apprenticeships as “a career route for people who want to work in the trades”.
In contrast, apprenticeships are now available in hundreds of standards across over 15 broad industry sectors, even teaching focussed standards have been recently implemented. Long gone are the days of apprenticeships solely in hairdressing and construction. They’re now being offered by management consultancies and tech firms among over a thousand employers.
The Baker Clause
Informing children of alternative training routes from a young age isn’t just beneficial for their awareness of career and work opportunities, it’s also been found to:
- Increase their understanding of the link between education, qualifications and work opportunities
- Reduce gender-specific role and career stereotyping
- Engage parents and carers in the process, changing their attitudes, perceptions and aspirations relating to their children’s education and career choices
In a bid to combat the awareness problem, the Department for Education announced the Baker Clause – an amendment to the Technical and Further Education Act – in late 2017. In effect since January 2018, the clause obligates all local-authority-maintained schools and academies to give training providers and colleges access to pupils in years 8 to 13 (ages 12 to 18).
However, just weeks into the new arrangements, investigations found some of the largest multi-academy trusts failing to comply with the new rules. Just 2 of the top 10 have published an access policy for training providers on their website, as required by the Baker Clause.
The role of businesses
The logistics industry is a case in point. It’s growing quicker than recruitment can keep up with but has limited interest from young people looking for their future career. Meanwhile, the demand for goods to be delivered quickly and cost-effectively means the industry is constantly adapting and reviewing its infrastructure. The solution? Could women come to the rescue?
There’s also a role for businesses in raising awareness. They have what’s needed to showcase the success of apprenticeships. Businesses should strive to create relationships with their closest schools, and invite apprentices to career events so that schools can help young people learn more about the realities of apprenticeships and access reliable and relevant knowledge about a range of programmes.
Organisations such as Career Ready and Inspiring the Future play a big part too. They link primary and secondary schools with businesses and industry volunteers to increase understanding of apprenticeships and help teachers prepare students for taking this route.
Looking at logistics
It’s becoming clear that the logistics and supply chain sector needs more talent. The skills shortage will only get worse in the coming years as an ageing workforce moves towards retirement. From previous experience and government research, we know that apprenticeships are fast-becoming the most accessible way to enter many of these in-demand professions and fill that skills gap.
Although Bis Henderson Academy do not specialise in the provision of apprenticeships to young people coming directly from school, we do work with learners who wish they had known more about these training options earlier in their education. If we can help young people to understand that apprenticeships are a viable and interesting option for them, providing practical experience for a globalised industry, we may be able to increase the interest in a larger range of industries that are lacking the skilled workers.
This will only be a benefit to the logistics industry as a whole and will open the doors to many young people who may not want to take the university route. And a key to creating that understanding is introducing alternative training routes at as early an age as possible, as Bethany Fovargue, Operations Manager at The Novus Trust, explains:
“We know that young people want to study business – what we need to do now is to take their concept of what business is and turn it into supply chain management. And we want to do that at a younger age than previously so that children develop a burning desire to become logisticians.”
Since the Apprenticeship Levy came into effect, it’s in the interest of all business to make the most of their credits. At Bis Henderson Academy, we help you do exactly that, with flexible programmes designed specifically for your business and workforce, making it easier to get your current workforce excited about the opportunity of further training and development. Our aim is to spread the word about the benefits of apprenticeship based training at all levels, and this starts with young people witnessing the positive effects this training has on their parents, family members and friends providing examples of alternative routes to their chosen careers.
Contact us today to discuss how we can support the training and development plans you have for your business Whether you want to bring new apprentices on board or provide ‘apprenticeship-based’ training to existing employees – we can design a tailored training programme to meet all of your needs, funded by your Apprenticeship Levy.
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