Page last updated at 13:44 GMT, Monday, 16 March 2009

Teachers 'lack skills awareness'

workshop scene
The government wants more teenagers to take apprenticeships

A majority of teachers would rate their knowledge of apprenticeships as "poor" or "very poor", a survey suggests.

A quarter considered apprenticeships a good alternative to A-levels - but among parents the figure was 43%.

The Edge foundation, which promotes vocational learning, surveyed 1,199 teachers and 1,130 parents in England. It said schools had an academic "bias".

The government recently announced £140m to fund 35,000 new apprenticeships, to upgrade the country's skills.

One in five teachers rated their knowledge of apprenticeships as "very poor", but just 8% said they knew little about undergraduate degrees.

Edge's chief executive, Andy Powell, said there was a "deep-seated bias" towards academic qualifications within the education system.

Teachers needed to know more about other forms of learning as they were the main source of careers advice, he said.

'Survive and thrive'

Edge - which aims to raise the status of vocational and practical learning - said teachers needed to be more aware of the value that many parents placed on this form of learning.

"We strongly believe that apprentices will play an integral role in helping the UK survive and thrive in the current economic climate," Mr Powell said.

"More than 100,000 apprenticeships are completed each year, but this figure could be much higher if teachers really understood the value and benefits of apprenticeships."

Labour MP Barry Sheerman, co-chair of the Skills Commission, said teachers must receive continuing training in the area of apprenticeships.

He said the National Apprenticeship Service and the Training and Development Agency for Schools ought to be more involved in promoting their value.

"The opportunities apprenticeships offer to learners, and the skills required by employers of apprentices, should be communicated to all teachers as part of an ongoing campaign," he said.

The Skills Commission is currently writing a report into the success of apprenticeships, to be published shortly.

Apprenticeships are available in different levels. A standard apprenticeship leads to an NVQ level 2, the equivalent of five good GCSEs.

The survey suggests that parents have better knowledge of apprenticeships - with two thirds saying their knowledge was either "good" or "neither good nor poor".

The government recently announced it would fund a further 35,000 apprenticeships to equip young people with the skills the country needs to weather the recession.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he wanted one in five young people to be taking apprenticeships in 10 years.

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