Learning for Life? The Postwar Experience of Apprenticeship

  • Sarah Vickerstaff


It is commonly argued that young people’s transitions from school to work in the UK have changed radically since the middle 1970s, with the result that the experience of cohorts today differs markedly from the generations growing up in the 1950s and 1960s (see for example, Nagel and Wallace, 1997; Roberts, 1984; Bynner, 1991; Furlong and Cartmel, 1997; and for a moderating view Vickerstaff, 2003). In particular, the fact that most young people in the earlier period left education after the compulsory school leaving age (15 and then 16 in 1972), and went into a labour market where jobs were relatively plentiful, contrasts sharply with the 86 per cent of 16-year-olds who now stay on in some form of education or training (DfES, 2002). It has been an aim of successive governments to encourage the numbers staying on in education and training after the school leaving age, and this has been combined since the late 1970s with the argument that compulsory schooling has been failing to provide young people with the key skills needed to make them employable. As a recent government document asserted:

Employers have consistently said that too many young people are not properly prepared for the world of work … In particular, they may lack skills such as communication and teamwork, and attributes such as self-confidence and willingness to learn that are of growing importance across a range of jobs. (DfES, 2003, p. 78)


Young People Core Skill Youth Transition Apprenticeship System Traditional Apprenticeship 
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© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2005

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  • Sarah Vickerstaff

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