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Simon Waugh: Concluding National Apprenticeship Week 2012

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Simon Waugh, Chief Executive, National Apprenticeship Service, celebrates National Apprenticeship Week 2012 and thanks the sector for their ongoing support of Apprenticeships.

This week we have been celebrating the achievements of apprentices up and down the country as part of National Apprenticeship Week 2012. Officially launched on Monday 6 February by Business Secretary Vince Cable at Channel 4 offices in London, also with David Abrahams the CEO of Channel 4. The week is on track to be the biggest Apprenticeship Week we have hosted to-date.

It is always pleasing to see a high level of FE Colleges and Training Providers lending their supporting National Apprenticeship Week by hosting events up and down the country. These events are a great way of celebrating the achievements of our apprentices but also to show what opportunities completing an Apprenticeship can lead to in the future.

Last night the National Apprenticeship Service hosted ‘The New Era of Apprenticeships’ reception at the House of Commons. During the event we unveiled our new campaign which focuses on four themes: quality, growth, pride and value. It is these themes that will underpin the work of the National Apprenticeship Service going forwards.

‘The New Era of Apprenticeships’ campaign stars six apprentices from employers: Bentley, insurance brokers Bluefin, BT, builders Jelson Homes, housing association InCommunities and recruitment giants SEC. When speaking with the six apprentices about their experiences of the Apprenticeship programme, it was clear that they felt passionately about the benefits offered by completing an Apprenticeship. Miles Taitt, one of the stars of the campaign who works for Bentley in Crewe is currently studying for his Higher Apprenticeship in Engineering Leadership through Total People. Miles explained that he decided to do an Apprenticeship because it meant that while he is studying towards a foundation degree at College he is also paid and also gets hands-on experience.

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Higher Apprenticeship Programmes are a critical part of the new era of Apprenticeships in this country. Recognising the value of such programmes, Prime Minister David Cameron used this week to announce a new round of Government funding to support thousands of Apprenticeships up to degree level. This development will help deliver the world class skills firms need to drive growth.

From this week, business and other interested parties will be able to bid for a share of £6m from the Higher Apprenticeship Fund to support the development of thousands of new Higher Apprenticeships in sectors including aerospace, energy and renewable technologies. For more information on this visit: www.apprenticeships.org.uk/highers.

This commitment to support the further development of Apprenticeships highlights the vital role that skills and therefore apprenticeships play in helping companies remain competitive in the global economy.

As we celebrate the achievements of apprentices in the many events taking place this week, it is clear how supportive the FE Sector is of the Apprenticeship Agenda. The NAS could not have achieved what we have done in the last three years without your commitment, enthusiasm and support. And for this I offer not only my thanks but the thanks of all my NAS colleagues. As you may be aware, I will be stepping down as Chief Executive of the NAS at the end of March. I will be leaving the organisation in very able and competent hands and I am confident that partners and stakeholders will continue to support our collective ambition to increase the number and quality of Apprenticeships in England.

Simon Waugh is chairman of the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS). From next month, David Way, chief operating officer of NAS, will be writing for FE News

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