A major boost in apprenticeships was unveiled by the Government as thousands of teenagers contemplated their future as they prepared to receive their exam results.
Ministers announced the introduction of 40 new employer-designed apprenticeships in a range of occupations from engineering, hospitality, law, accountancy and journalism to offer a gold-standard alternative to a university place to today’s young people..
One of the schemes unveiled involves The Independent and its sister paper the London Evening Standard and will allow a junior journalist to develop the quality skills necessary for the profession.
The plans were unveiled by Business Secretary Vince Cable who, speaking from the set of ITV soap Emmerdale - where apprentices were involved in behind-the-scenes work - said: “For too long there has been a divide between university and vocational education which has been damaging for both employers and young people.
“Placing university degrees and apprenticeships on an equal footing will help break down barriers and better meet the needs of business.”
Speaking to The Independent after visiting apprentices at work at Google’s London headquarters, Skills Minister Nick Boles added: “It is a big challenge we’re setting ourselves for these young people who aren’t going to carry on with academic qualifications.”
Mr Boles added that those who choose apprenticeships would be able to “earn while they learn” and could go on to full degree courses after completion, or remain in employment.
“One hurdle we have to clear is parents; is your mum or dad going to be as proud of you for doing this rather than go to university?” he added.
"If we can persuade people that it’s a completely reasonable decision to opt for an apprenticeship instead, and it doesn’t mean you’re giving up on your future - you can still go on to university - hopefully we’ll have done our job.”
Amol Rajan, editor of The Independent, added: “We’re proud to be part of this initiative. We have been able to give opportunities for youngsters who have a passion for journalism to join our publication and get on-the-job training including legal and ethics issues.
“With the spotlight on the media in recent years the timing is absolutely right.”