Elaine Bowker, principal of The City of Liverpool College
Parents are a huge influence on the decisions that their children make and their power to help the next generation succeed should not be underestimated. Understandably, parents want to send their children out into the world to be successful and happy in their career. However, University still remains the aspiration of the vast majority of parents and is not always the best option.
With university graduates racking up debts of £50k on average, no guaranteed job to show for it and often no real work experience gained, it’s no surprise that professional qualifications and apprenticeships are growing in favour as an alternative education route both for learners and employers.
The world of work is constantly changing and at an incredibly fast pace. These days, business leaders need employees who have the practical skills to hit the ground running. But so often, students are leaving school or university having done their GCSEs, A Levels, or completed a degree, with very little real experience to apply to the world of work. We know from the businesses we work with, that practical and softer skills are fundamentally important now more than ever.
There are a huge number of stereotypes still in existence which many parents would be forgiven for having. For example, apprenticeships are seen by many as most suitable for boys who want a career in a trade industry such as construction or plumbing, which is simply not the case. More is being done to combat this common misconception, with the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) reporting a rise in female enquires for apprenticeships in the last few years, but there is still much more to be done.
In addition, research commissioned by the Institution of Engineering and Technology found that just one per cent of parents said they believed engineering was a suitable career for their daughter, compared with 11 per cent who deemed it suitable for their son. These findings are disappointing, and must change.
However, these misconceptions are often the result of a lack of knowledge. It can be particularly daunting for parents supporting their children with their career options when it comes to industries such as digital and technology, which are constantly evolving and can be hard to keep up with, with new job descriptions being created every single day.
Unlike previous generations, young people today are much less concerned with the concept of change. They are much more comfortable than people once were with the idea that they will have lots of jobs in their life and just because they start out in one sector, doesn’t meant that they will be there for the rest of their career. This is why leaving education with the ability to be flexible and adaptable is so important.
At The City of Liverpool College, we pride ourselves on being the go-to place for students who want industry relevant skills and know-how and every year, we support over 10,000 students to start a career in their chosen field. We are also the place that businesses turn to, to secure the talent they need to grow.
We work closely with some of the biggest and best employers in the region to ensure our students get the most out of their experience by teaching them the advanced skills required to work in their chosen industry.
A perfect example of this is Peel Land and Property’s £5 billion regeneration project, Liverpool Waters, which has selected The City of Liverpool College as its apprentice provider. Through this partnership, not only are our students being exposed to unique opportunities and gaining real-world experience, but local businesses are being provided with highly skilled and motivated apprentices.
Times are changing and so must the way we prepare the next generation for the world of work. No longer does the traditional university route into employment provide the best chance for a successful and prosperous career and we need to ensure that our young people choose the route that is right for them. After all, there are so many fantastic opportunities to take advantage of.
It can be hard to take a step back and allow your child to explore opportunities for themselves, particularly if it’s something you’re unsure of. If you’re considering the best next steps for your child or simply want to find out more about the options available to them, get in touch.