UCAS-style system ‘vital’ to open routes for young people

A Bristol MP has called for reform of the apprenticeship application process in order to open up new paths for young people. Karin Smyth MP echoed previous calls for a UCAS-style system to channel youngsters towards vocational routes in cases where university may not be an option.

Smyth was speaking to the Public Accounts Committee against a backdrop of her constituency, Bristol South suffering the lowest levels of young people going on to study at university, where 80% of apprentices were being “churned” into the low-paid retail sector.


“The only way for youngsters to share in prosperity’

“In places like my constituency, 80% of people who take up apprenticeships end up in the retail and public health sectors. They don’t end up in construction areas, where they might have a 32% premium on their income,” said Ms Smyth.

“We don’t have a large employer. We send the least number of children to university in the country. This is the only way young people in my constituency have to share in the wealth and prosperity of the city and its region.”

For Smyth, the answer lies in simplifying the application process to expose young people to as broad a range of options as possible. “It’s that issue of having to send off 10 or 15 forms for perhaps a not-terribly-motivated 16-year-old, [compared with] being helped through the system, as you are for UCAS, to get a statement together and use a portal.”