Results from the biggest ever survey of apprentices, conducted by the IAC (the Industry Apprentice Council) which are due out this month – tell a very sorry story.

Forty per cent of the 1,400 respondents felt that that careers advice provided by their school or college was poor or very poor – and I was appalled to learn that in 21st Century Britain – five per cent received no careers advice at all.

We have to dispel the myths and educate the educators as a matter of national urgency.

Many academics have remained in the splendid isolation that is academia - for the entirety of their lives – passing from school to further education and then a career in education, without the oxygen of any outside real world influences.

They may well believe that a life in industry and advanced manufacturing will be gruelling grind – in a career cul-de-sac.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Everything manmade in our modern world is engineered in some shape or form.

Twenty First Century engineers are more likely to be in an ultra modern laboratory or computer centre – than covered in grease in a noisy, dirty inspection pit.

Apprentices earn and learn – rather than rack up debt in tuition fees – and have a well paid rewarding career ahead of them once qualified.

The most extraordinary advances are being made by British based engineers and industries – ones which will revolutionise the way we live.

Semta is here to ensure that these mindboggling breakthroughs reach their full potential within this country – and not merely plundered only to be manufactured overseas.

Simply put – our economy will falter and fail unless we optimise the opportunity and ensure that the young have the skills required to make it a reality.

With more than 2 million new engineers required by the end of the decade – we don’t have time to spare.  With more than 740,000 16-24 year olds unemployed we also technically have the raw material available to us.

Semta’s specialist-awarding organisation EAL – prides itself on being closer to industry – and now it has launched radical action to get closer to education too.

Having launched a ‘Schools’ Pledge’ last year forging direct links with places of education and local businesses – EAL has crafted a raft of vocational qualifications for schools.

The EAL ‘Class Action’ will see pupils from the age of 14 be able to take the first important steps to a rewarding career in engineering, plumbing or electrical services.

And from 2017 these qualifications will score points for school league tables – so there are no good reasons for them not to be embraced.

So let’s ensure that Twentieth Century prejudice and ignorance doesn’t stand in the way of Twenty First Century progress for our young and our nation.