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Government needs to engage students of future, says skills minister

Lord Young calls for change in attitude and encouragement of building services in schools

The government’s Skills minister has called for more work to be done in schools to encourage the next generation of building services engineers.

Lord Tony Young said that school careers advisers were not doing enough to sell the benefits of apprenticeships to school leavers. He told RAC: “We have got to change the attitude of schools that ‘you are not a success unless you go to university’. It is actually harder at the moment to get onto an apprenticeship than it is to get a university place, and that isn’t right.”

Lord Young, presenting the SummitSkills National Training Awards, said that the government was launching the National Apprenticeship Service at the end of April, in order to provide a one-stop shop for employers interested in taking on a youngster. He said: “There is public money available for employers to train and apprentices are fully funded between 16 and 18. They are a great investment, as they are the future.”

He added that employers should also consider the benefits of older apprentices: “They have got the drive and commitment when they are older. And they often complete their training programmes quicker.”

The award for RAC operative of the year, for those who have achieved an NVQ3 or above, went to Robert Priestley of Mansfield Pollard & Co. Mr Priestley, who trained on a Best course with Grimbsy Institute, was cited by judges for being ‘a model employee’.