EDUCATIONAL figures are urging parents to explore ‘all the options’ over fears not enough parents support apprenticeships.

It comes amid claims children in East Lancashire are being told they are ‘too clever’ to take vocational qualifications.

Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle, the government’s Apprenticeship Ambassador to Business, said he urged parents to be more open minded.

The latest figures show that both apprenticship places, and applications, are rising.

The National Apprenticeships Service has seen vacancies increase 24 per cent and the number of people applying for places rise by 43 per cent this year, including many more female applicants.

However only 27 per cent of parents say they find a vocational education worthwhile according to a study by the Edge Foundation.

Mr Birtwistle said: “In my role as an apprenticeship ambassador I have seen it happen too many times. Children are blocked from taking up vocational studies by this prejudice.

“I have met many successful people who started as an apprentice and they were all told they were too clever.

“This idea that only the less intelligent take up these roles is so outdated. If you take on an apprenticeship, very often your firm will pay for you to go to university as well. It is the smart route. One apprentice who ended up in a very successful engineering role had to go around both her school and parents because they were so were opposed. Apprentices like this, who are smart and determined, are heroes.”

Chairman of Blackburn Colllege’s board Sir Bill Taylor said parents should not make fast conclusions.

He said: “It is a much more competitive world and the right qualifications make all the difference. Children are leaving university with mountains of debt.

“If the right career is a vocational one for that particular person, it can be a very successful route”.