A report out this summer revealed that only 19.5% of Welsh applications to Oxford and Cambridge were successful during the 2011-12 admissions cycle, compared to a success rate of 25% for England and Northern Ireland... Welsh industry most certainly does require that top level expertise if it is to continue to thrive.
It is an age old stereotype that vocational learning is a last resort for those who have failed academically, a 'plan b' for when exams go wrong and options are limited. As with all stereotypes it is oversimplified and damaging. Putting people in boxes, labelling them one thing or the other is wrong and calling a child 'too clever' for vocational education is no exception.
It's that time of year again when thousands of young people put the final touches on their UCAS applications, hold their breath and hit 'send'. Then they anxiously wait for weeks until their 'life-altering' results come through. My son went through this process last year. I'll never forget his panicked face as he said, 'What if I don't get any offers?'
The IAC is giving learners something they have not had before - a national voice. The changing landscape of apprenticeships in this country, as Government endeavours to secure the vocational route as a central pathway into fulfilling careers, requires input from those who will be affected - the apprentices themselves.
The idea of only awarding substantial public sector contracts to those companies that agree to train a significant number of the next generation of Apprenticeships is one that we fully endorse. Although this did not get through the last parliament, it is encouraging that this is now part of Labour party policy.