MANY young people went back to school last week for their final year in compulsory education, sixth form or college.

The vast majority of those leaving compulsory education will make the decision to go on to sixth form or college with the ultimate aim of going to university.

The Careers Wales Annual Destinations Survey 2017 found that 88.2 per cent of year 11 leavers last year went on to further full-time education.

The same survey found that, of year 11 pupils leaving school last year, only 1.7 per cent went onto work-based training with employment status, which includes modern apprenticeships and government supported training of employees.

A further 4.7 per cent went into work-based training without employed status.

Only 0.8 per cent of year 12 and 2.1 per cent of year 13 leavers went into work-based training with employed status.

Clearly, across all school leavers, only a very small minority are going on to apprenticeship schemes and other work-based vocational programs with employed status.

Although university is undoubtedly the right decision for many, more can and must be done to ensure good apprenticeships are available and seen as a realistic alternative to other forms of further education.

Apprenticeships can be a really good route to a successful and rewarding career.

They can equip young people with the skills and experience this country will rely on in the future.

One of the main problems is that too many young people do not even consider an apprenticeship.

According to Careers Wales Connect, 43 per cent of year 11 school leavers who contacted them in 2014-15 had never considered work based learning.

That is why I am very pleased to say I will be co-hosting an apprenticeship fair in my constituency alongside Careers Wales.

It will be the first of what will be an annual event in Islwyn.

It will be taking place from 10am on Thursday, November 15, at Risca Leisure Centre.

It is intended for young people between the ages of 16 and 18 to come and find out what they can gain from an apprenticeship.

So far we have already had a wide range of employers and services confirm their participation.

Some are major multinationals based in Islwyn and further afield in a range of sectors.

I would encourage anyone who is aged between 16 and 18, or knows someone who might benefit, to mark the date and come to see what an apprenticeship can do for their future.