18/01/2013 08:29 GMT | Updated 19/03/2013 05:12 GMT

Could Placing Apprenticeship Applications in the Hands of UCAS Be a Major Step Forward?

The love-in between Lord Adonis and the coalition government on vocational education has already given us the technical baccalaureate. Now the former education minister is calling for UCAS to be given responsibility for apprenticeship applications, to an enthusiastic response from ministers.

In a comment piece in the FT yesterday, Lord Adonis says that the information about apprenticeships is poor and that putting UCAS in charge would solve the problem. Indeed, he first floated the idea at our very own London Festival of Education last November.

"It would help give a rocket boost to youth apprenticeships and enable school leavers to apply both for university and apprenticeship places in tandem", he said. HE minister David Willetts told the FT's education editor Chris Cook he'd pursue the idea in his next meeting with UCAS, which is reportedly happy to take on the role.

There's something to be said for a single application process for all school leavers: UCAS has been gesturing in this direction for a while, with UCAS Progress, which was intended to incorporate all the options from 14 to 19, although so far hasn't included work-based options.

We've already got one experiment with an HE body adapting to the demands of year-round FE applications: the Student Loans Company and advanced learning loans. Some might feel we should wait and see how that turns out.

If the idea does progress, however, a crucial question will be whether UCAS adapts to apprenticeships or whether apprenticeships adapt to UCAS. For more on this story visit