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BIVDA attends the APPG for Life Sciences to examine apprenticeships

By October 20, 2023No Comments

BIVDA attended the third quarter All-Party Parliamentary Group for Life Sciences meeting in the House of Lords on Tuesday, alongside other representatives of the life sciences industry. The topic for discussion was ‘championing life sciences apprenticeships’. Parliamentarians listened intently as attendees outlined the challenges and opportunities presently associated with life sciences apprenticeships.

Representatives from BIVDA’s membership detailed their passion for supporting apprenticeships to not only provide meaningful careers, but to bolster the NHS in time. Their rebranding of apprenticeships to ‘work-based learning’ sparked a large increase in applications and gave opportunities to those who prefer hands-on learning rather than classroom teaching.

Training apprentices was identified as a challenge due to training often being conducted overseas, costs which are not covered by the Apprenticeship Levy. While welcome, the Levy was criticised for being too limited in scope and could deter SMEs from offering apprenticeships. Furthermore, there was also a call to provide greater financial assistance for apprentices who suffer burdensome relocation and/or travel costs.

All attendees identified advertising apprenticeships as an issue; suffering the incorrect stigma of being less well regarded than university degrees. Schools regularly push students towards university rather than pursuing an apprenticeship, perhaps because of the value placed on university admission statistics by schools.

Lord Hunt of King’s Heath was perturbed by the situation, asking what could be done to ensure apprenticeships were not discriminated by schools? Attendees suggested there needed to be a greater push towards advertising the benefits of apprenticeships to students, their teachers and parents. Indeed, many are unaware of the breadth of apprenticeships and the potential high salaries available over time.

It was also suggested that apprenticeship fairs could be held in conjunction with university fairs to supply more information about apprenticeship opportunities.

Baroness Bennett asked about the dropout rate among apprenticeships. The table agreed that the dropout rate was virtually nil, which is considerably lower than university dropout rates.

There were further discussions about regional differences. It was noted that it was very difficult to attract apprentices in the South, compared to the North-West and the Midlands. Similarly, recruitment in Scotland is immensely challenging. It was speculated that attitudes towards apprenticeships and free university tuition in Scotland were likely factors.

Dawn