By Ian Dipple Thursday 07 March 2013 Updated: 13/03 15:05
BUSINESS leaders in Redditch claim they are being shut out from schools because teachers are not interested in encouraging young people to consider career routes other than university.
A number of company bosses say they have invited schools to tour their factories to see what modern manufacturing is like and promote the benefits of on the job training but few have taken up the offer while others said they could not get into schools to talk to children.
The debate came during a discussion on how to boost interest in apprenticeships and fill the skills gap in the borough.
Warren Grey, of Machined Component Systems, told a meeting of Redditch business leaders last Friday (March 1): "There's a lack of access from schools to businesses to go there and give them the opportunity to find out about not pursuing a sixth form career but learning while they work."
Jim Clark, from AMS Group, added there had to be an attitude shift so teachers did not just consider vocational training appropriate for those children who were considered less academic.
"It's about engaging with the kids but we're not being allowed to engage with them. There's no point going into schools and talking to the kids if the second you walk out the teachers aren't interested."
John Callaghan, principal at NEW College, said he also struggled to get into schools because they were seen as direct competition and the problem lay with the way schools were funded as the money followed the pupil.
"The way funding is at the moment if you were a head you would have some difficulty and a moral dilemma between if that's the best route for the student or if I let too many students go will I be financially viable."
Headteachers from Redditch schools are being invited to attend a future meeting to discuss the issue with businesses.
Redditch MP Karen Lumley has asked for a debate in Westminster Hall to highlight the importance of vocational training.
"It was disappointing to hear that from businesses but I understand why schools want to keep pupils and the money in schools but from next year 14-year-olds can go to college so it's about recognising there are different sorts of education out there," she said.
"I hope headteachers will come to the next meeting because it's so important we work together on this and do what is best for our young people."
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