New legislation to be introduced later this year will force schools to put apprenticeships on a level footing with university when it comes to promoting further and higher education.

The new law will ensure that apprenticeship providers and further education colleges can go into schools to give careers advice to students. It is intended to combat “outdated snobbery” against technical and professional education.

Over two thirds (65 per cent) of teachers in a recent study said they wouldn’t advise a student to sign up for an apprenticeship if their predicted grades were high enough to get into university. Ministers say that, by promoting apprenticeships and vocational training only to less academically able pupils, schools are perpetuating the outdated perception that apprenticeships are second best to an academic education.

The new law will place a legal duty on state schools and academies to make pupils aware of all their post-16 options, including degree-level apprenticeships. Secretary of state for education, Nicky Morgan, said: “As part of our commitment to extend opportunity to all young people, we want to level the playing field – making sure they are aware of all the options open to them and are able to make the right choice for them.

“For many young people going to university will be the right choice, but for other young people the technical education provided by apprenticeships will suit them better. That’s why I’m determined to tackle the minority of schools that perpetuate an outdated snobbery towards apprenticeships by requiring those schools to give young people the chance to hear about the fantastic opportunities that apprenticeships and technical education offer.”

Welcoming the announcement, Jayne Worthington, Managing Director of the Skills Company, part of the Manchester Growth Company, said: “We are delighted that the government is introducing this measure to give apprenticeships an equal footing with higher education in schools. We know that it isn’t always easy to for schools to inform young people about the all options in applied vocational routes, that’s why the Skills Company works very closely with schools delivering this service for them. Given this recent announcement, we are working to expand our offer and would be glad to hear from schools that need help in this area.”

“It’s really vital that our young people get good quality careers advice at school that gives them all the information they need about the full range of options available to them post 16 both vocational and academic. It’s also important that parents understand the changes so that they can make sure that their children make the right choices, and don’t believe that staying on in the sixth form is the only option.”

“The practical support we can provide to schools includes attending careers events and parents’ evenings, CV and interview technique workshops, and one to one advice and guidance interviews. We also offer work experience placements, and a series of open events where young people and their parents can talk to industry specialists and have a go at a range of occupationally related activities. We hope that this new legislation will extend access to this kind of support to all young people in Greater Manchester.”

“This development is very good news not only for young people, but also for employers who will be able to call on an even wider pool of talent to drive their businesses and the local economy forward.”