More can be done to encourage pupils towards apprenticeships, MSPs told

Schools are not encouraging enough young people to seek work in the construction industry, it has been suggested.

At the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, MSPs heard from a number of apprentices who highlighted their experiences of working in the sector.

Scottish Green MSP Andy Wightman asked what support was available for pupils interested in pursuing their career interests.

Several of the apprentices in attendance at the Economy and Fair Work Committee responded that too often schools give more support to pupils wishing to pursue academia.

Daniel McKelvie, (Construction and the Built Environment) Heriot Watt University said: “Personally, I found out about my apprenticeship through Apprenticeship Scotland.

“I’d say that the school support was more pushed along the university route, instead of the apprenticeship route.

“There was support there if you went and asked for it, but if you didn’t really know what you wanted to do then it was very hard to find it.”

Jessica Morris, (Construction and the Built Environment) Heriot Watt University, said that after leaving school in 2013, she learned more about the industry through her own research.

“Careers advice was very, very poor at my school. I received my first and only careers meeting three weeks before I went on exam leave in sixth year,” said Ms Morris.

“And if you weren’t interested in university, it was almost as though you were ignored. There just wasn’t the information available for any other routes. I think that’s something that needs addressed.”

Elliot Ruthven, (Plastering) Edinburgh College, said: “Everything was pushed down the university routes and if you weren’t going to university, you were sort of left to find out what you want to do.

“The careers advice was – if you were going to uni, you were given ‘right, these are the grades you need’ – and that was sort of it.

“Whereas, if you wanted to go down an apprenticeship route, you were just sort of left to find out what you wanted to do.”

David Watson, (Carpentry and Joinery) New College Lanarkshire, said that he entered the sector in his twenties, having not been made fully aware of the routes available during his time at school.

He gained his apprenticeship after making phone calls to different companies and said: “I wasn’t really guided in school with the career advice of what route to take.

“I knew myself that I wasn’t going to go to university. If I was given a trade route, like – ‘that’s an option you can take and make a good living out it’ – I probably would have took that route, but nobody gave me a real indication that that was an option.”

Liam Clark, (Carpentry and Joinery) New College Lanarkshire, left school in 2017 and suggested that the support on offer had improved.

He said: “I feel like it’s got a lot better. I left school two years ago and the amount of help they give you is quite a lot.

“They had different sessions you could go to. There weren’t specific people that they chose for it, you had to make your own effort, but it was there.”

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