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Apprenticeships should be on equal level to academic options

19 June 2019

By Kyle Tagg Business broadcaster Steph McGovern has highlighted the importance of apprenticeships as a way of closing the skills gap. Speaking at the AoC Conference on Wednesday, the BBC Breakfast correspondent said that apprenticeships should be treated on 'equal levels' to academic options. "There's a massive problem with apprenticeships in that they are often seen as a lesser education to the traditional academic route," she said. "I see great wealth in vocational education because it fits the needs of businesses really directly. That’s not to say I think the academic route is wrong, I just think they should be treated on equal levels. "Employers don’t just want someone who can pass an exam. They want people who can adapt to change, people who know how to communicate with people." Having covered the World Skills competition in Sao Paulo last year, Steph witnessed first-hand the UK's attitudes towards skills compared to other countries. "From a business point of view the UK was incredibly strong. From a media and political point of view it wasn’t so good. "In terms of other countries, the Russian participants got a message from astronauts in space and team USA got to visit the White House. For me it just felt sad that there wasn't even a minister or significant person from the UK there. "There was a real level of talent, dedication and skill on show. It just isn’t valued enough in this country." Steph is also passionate about her work in the North East to try and bring inspirational figures into colleges. She hopes that projects like this will inspire young people to explore more options in terms of their skills and progression. "Colleges have so much to do already. The way I think it can work better is if they are able to provide role models. "It’s all very well bringing in the boss of a massive company, but the most influential people are the ones you can genuinely relate to. Former students are especially crucial." As well believing in the importance of alumni, Steph also thinks that the decisions young people make now will not be the be all and end all. "The jobs world is changing. Young people are going to dictate what jobs we need in the future. You don’t have to decide what you want to do forever when you’re 16 or 18. "There shouldn’t be anything that holds you back from whatever career you want to do. Kyle Tagg is an Exeter College student who is doing work experience at AoC's Annual Conference.