LONDON, March 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Teacher understanding of Apprenticeships must radically improve for the Government programme to achieve its full potential, according to new research by independent education foundation, Edge.

Coming ahead of the report of the Skills Commission's six-month inquiry into Apprenticeships, Edge's findings reveal that more than half (56 per cent) of the teachers surveyed rate their knowledge of Apprenticeships as poor - a real concern given young people rely on teachers for informed and impartial careers advice. By contrast, only one in twelve of teachers (8 per cent) say they have a poor understanding of university degrees.

Furthermore, just one in four teachers (24 per cent) believes Apprenticeships are a good alternative to A-Levels or equivalent qualifications. Parents are much more likely to see Apprenticeships as a good alternative to A levels - 43 per cent of parents surveyed support this view. This will come as a surprise to many teachers - only 17 per cent of teachers think parents see Apprenticeships as a good alternative to A levels.

Andy Powell, chief executive of Edge, commented:

Teachers are one of the main sources of careers advice to young people so it is a real travesty that they don't have a good knowledge of Apprenticeships, or the value placed on this form of learning by parents. The fact that teachers have admitted they have a good knowledge of University degrees highlights the deep-seated bias towards academic qualifications within our education system.

We strongly believe that apprentices will play an integral role in helping the UK survive and thrive in the current economic climate. More than 100,000 Apprenticeships are completed every year. This figure could be much higher if teachers really understood the value and benefits of Apprenticeships.

The Skills Commission report into Apprenticeships highlights that teachers need support to help young people recognise that there are many paths to success.

Barry Sheerman, co-chair of the Skills Commission, commented: The Government must ensure that knowledge of Apprenticeships is a critical part of initial teacher training and continuing professional development for teachers. The opportunities Apprenticeships offer to learners, and the skills required by employers of apprentices, should be communicated to all teachers as part of an ongoing campaign by the National Apprenticeship Service in partnership with the Training and Development Agency for schools.

The Skills Commission's report, Progression through Apprenticeships, will be published on 18 March. The report examines the progression routes of young people into apprenticeships, and explores ways to ensure more apprentices progress on to higher levels of learning.

For more information and

Notes to Editors

About the Skills Commission: The Skills Commission is part of Policy Connect, a not for profit organisation that bridges Parliament and industry. The Commission is comprised of a select group of key individuals with a stake in skills policy and is co-chaired by Barry Sheerman MP and Dame Ruth Silver. It brings greater direction and focus to skills policy and acts as a steering body for the National Skills Forum and Associate Parliamentary Skills Group. The Skills Commission's Inquiry into Apprenticeships was launched in September 2008. The inquiry is chaired by Sir William Taylor and sponsored by Edge.

About Edge

Edge is an independent education foundation. It is dedicated to raising the status of practical and vocational learning, so that all young people have the opportunity to achieve their potential, and the UK's future workforce is equipped with the skills to be successful in the modern economy. Edge believes that 'learning by doing' is as important as academic learning, and that there are many paths to success.

About the YouGov survey

During November 2008, YouGov surveyed

(a) 1199 teachers and lecturers in secondary schools, sixth form colleges and further education colleges. The survey was carried out online and figures were not weighted. (b) 1030 parents of 11 to 18 year olds throughout Great Britain. The survey was carried out online and the figures were weighted by GOR and Social Grade

For further details including interviews and background information, please contact: Rebecca Johnston, Sarah Davidson or Max Wilson, Band Brown Communications, +44(0)20-7419-6950 /

For further details including interviews and background information, please contact: Rebecca Johnston, Sarah Davidson or Max Wilson, Band Brown Communications, +44(0)20-7419-6950 /