From January 2018, technical education apprenticeship providers must be allowed into schools to talk to those in years 8 to 13 about technical education and apprenticeships. I urge my hon. Friend, and all other Members when they visit schools, to ask what providers have been into them and to ensure that they hold schools in their constituencies to account, because they have a legal obligation. Schools are also responsible for giving those pupils independent careers advice on a range of education and training opportunities.
In my constituency, engineering companies find it difficult to recruit young people. I think that more should be done to help schools to give pupils the kind of career guidance that they need. Universities are only one option: apprenticeships are another. Can the Minister do even more to help schools to provide that advice?
I will do everything that I can. I understand that 140 engineering starts have been reported so far in my hon. Friend’s constituency, and our Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge for Schools project, or ASK, is raising pupil awareness through assemblies, application workshops and live broadcasts involving employers such as the national health service and IBM. It is absolutely right that university is one of the options that are available to young people when they leave school.
Many midlands businesses, especially manufacturing businesses, are desperate for apprentices. Schools are currently focused on, and judged by, their ability to get students through exams and into university. Will the Secretary of State develop a set of performance indicators to demonstrate the success of schools in enabling their students to graduate into apprenticeships?
The hon. Gentleman might like to have a look at destination tables. If companies in his constituency are finding it hard to find apprentices, in national apprenticeship week the National Apprenticeship Service offers some very good opportunities. Members on both sides of the House have run incredibly successful apprenticeship fairs, and the hon. Gentleman might consider doing that himself. A huge range of local employers and public sector organisations are involved, including the NHS, the UK Border Agency and the armed services, but on his particular patch, the engineering companies that are looking for apprentices might well want to take advantage of an opportunity with which he can provide them.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is also important to engage parents in encouraging students to take on apprenticeships? Parents often have an old-fashioned view of apprenticeships, and are unaware of our modern version. What is my right hon. Friend doing to try to improve communication with parents?
We are looking at every opportunity to improve that communication, and the apprenticeship fair is one option. If it is run from 5pm to 7pm it allows parents to come. As my hon. Friend rightly says, there is rather an old-fashioned view of apprenticeships being just about plumbers and electricians, but the world has changed. We can look at the figures and at what is now being done by some of the big engineering companies, big banks and other companies—such as KPMG, but I could name a whole host—and see that it is amazing how apprenticeships have changed; it is amazing how this Government have changed apprenticeships.
The Minister surely knows that there is an attitude in so many schools that they want to keep that bum on the seat for as long as possible because they get that revenue. The fact is that she needs champions: she needs employers to get into schools more and she needs the FE colleges, as champions, to get into schools as well. If she backs the FE sector, she will get a very good result.
We do have ambassadors: the young apprentice ambassadors network does a fantastic job of giving talks in schools, and I urge the hon. Gentleman to have those conversations with schools. I will do all I can; I feel passionately about the fact that there needs to be more choice for young people both at 16 and at 18. As my hon. Friend Rebecca Pow says, we need to educate the parents, and we also need to educate the schools. I point out again that schools have a legislative responsibility to make sure that technical education apprenticeship providers are allowed into schools, and you should call your local schools into account, Mr Speaker, as should all hon. Members.