Lancaster University

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University and employers debate higher education for Apprentices

04/04/2007 10:25:55

Lancaster University’s Department of Continuing Education has recently co-hosted an innovative and lively workshop for employers, colleges, universities and training providers, to address the issue of why so few Advanced Apprentices in Lancashire currently enter higher education.

The workshop, which was funded by Aimhigher Lancashire and took place in Blackburn on 29 March, brought together 50 representatives from employers, work-based learning providers, and further and higher education colleges across Lancashire to discuss the barriers and opportunities for Apprentices entering higher education (HE). Advanced Apprentices are young people aged 17 – 25 who undertake a programme of work-based learning at Level 3. Nationally only about two per cent go on to HE. The aim of the workshop, which was co-hosted with the Lancashire Work Based Learning Executive Forum, was to bring together representatives of all the groups involved in Apprenticeship training and development in Lancashire for the first time and to openly debate the problems facing Apprentices and look at possible solutions.

Speakers pinpointed some of the barriers facing Apprentices, such as the fact that the Apprentices themselves do not aspire to go to university, not having been told that HE is a realistic possibility for them; small businesses cannot always afford to release Apprentices from the production environment and larger companies struggle to find the right HE courses to suit employer needs. However, they also pointed out that employers and higher education institutions were increasingly working together on these issues, and that there were already examples of successes in Lancashire.

Dr Kathy Doncaster, of the Department of Continuing Education, and organiser of the workshop called it “a significant opportunity to share ideas among the different stakeholders in improving training and education opportunities for Apprentices - we believe it is the first event of its kind in Lancashire. We hope that it will lead to further co-operation between these groups in the future to help find more ways of helping Apprentices to progress to higher education”.

Key note speakers at the event were Steve Gray, Chief Executive of Training 2000, one of the UK’s leading training providers and Terry Cowham, Chair of the Aimhigher Lancashire group on Work-Based Progression and Young Unemployed Adults/Excluded Groups.

For further information, contact Dr Kathy Doncaster at the Department of Continuing Education, Lancaster University on 01524 592722.