Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner

With Apprenticeship Week 2021 already in full swing, @futuregencymru, @sophiehowe, explains why she encourages her children to consider becoming apprentices and what she believes makes apprenticeships a prosperous route into work for future generations to come.

More than ever before, there’s an increasing anxiety amongst young people about their career decisions after leaving school. The impact of Covid-19 on the economy has resulted in many re-evaluating their options, creating apprehension not only for them, but also for their parents.

Both as the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, a role I hold as part of Wales’ Well-being of Future Generations Act, which requires us to think about how our actions today impact upon the future generations of tomorrow and as a mother-of-five, I’m no stranger to this. I have a good insight into the various pathways that are available to school leavers and have experienced my own children facing these life-changing career decisions.

I would always support my children on whichever route they felt was best for them. But when they approach me for guidance on their next steps, I actively encourage them to explore the apprenticeship route. 

My 17-year-old son had always planned on going to university to pursue a career in marketing, but after seeing an apprenticeship opportunity with global digital marketing brand, Unilever, it encouraged him to explore some of the other options available. He soon realised that an apprenticeship would allow him to start his career straight out of school, while working towards a nationally recognised qualification and learning from industry professionals – and he’d earn a wage. He soon changed his mind, and an apprenticeship became the most attractive option.

When I was a teenager, I never considered an apprenticeship, neither was I ever encouraged to do one. My father had completed an apprenticeship as a mechanic, but when I was growing up, there was a big shift away from this learning route and a huge push throughout society towards going to university. 

It’s easy for parents to emulate how they were parented. If you’re a parent who was swayed against apprenticeships, then it’s worth exploring how this way of learning has adapted since you were at school. 

Apprenticeships have evolved – they’re innovative, they can be revolutionary. There’s now a breadth of opportunities across a wealth of sectors in Wales – from creative, digital, life science and in green renewable industries. These are the industries of the future and there’s a duty on us to understand, and prepare our children, for these shifting work and skills demands. If these opportunities were available to me as a teenager, my career path could certainly have been very different. 

I feel there’s a disconnect between what skills individuals think employers want compared to what employers actually need. As an employer myself, and as someone who regularly engages with employers, apprenticeships are widely respected as a beneficial recruitment option; allowing businesses to hone the skills of enthusiastic employees to meet their needs. 

I’ve recruited apprentices in my organisation who have become an integral part of my workforce. For me, it’s a cost-effective way to recruit and it really helps to plug skills gaps. Not only this, but existing staff within the office have also learned from them; it’s a two-way skills swap. My former apprentice is now a key member of my team and she’s proof of how the Apprenticeships Programme produces loyal, talented and valuable employees. 

The long-term impact of investing in young people rests heavily on our actions right now. Ultimately, what’s put in place today will benefit us all tomorrow. It’s crucial we create opportunities for young people; we cannot leave a generation behind without skills, prospects or jobs. 

Exposing individuals to a working environment at a young age helps them become more aware and engaged with the world around them. The experience instigates personal skills, besides professional ones, such as creativity, emotional intelligence and critical thinking - all valuable attributes which employers seek. 

Indeed, the pandemic poses difficult challenges for businesses, but we can capitalise on the opportunities currently presented. We’re living in a digital revolution and are increasingly seeing advancements in our green and renewable industries. By acting now, we can make the most of these opportunities by developing and future-proofing a workforce that has the skills to secure the future success of Wales. 

Apprenticeships are an effective way of building a skilled workforce that’s fit for the jobs of the future. While for young people, they’re a proven route into a sustainable employment in key industries that can offer rewarding careers and progression opportunities. Apprenticeships really are a genius decision. 

I truly believe that to become a prosperous Wales, which is one of the goals set out in the Well-being of Future Generations Act, Government and business need to continue working together to ensure we have a pipeline of talent that boasts the wide range of skills Wales’ needs to capitalise on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

It’s important that there are different pathways into work and there’s still a place for all these routes both now and in the future. As parents, we’ll always advise and support our children as best we can in making these life-changing career choices, and that can start by educating ourselves on the variety of opportunities that are available. Like me, you may be surprised which pathway you encourage your children to follow.

 Sophie How, Future Generations Commissioner


You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity…

Ways to Become Qualified in Education & Training, Assessor and/ or IQA Qualifications. - Axiom Dynamics

Every day at the Axiom Dynamics Training Academy, we receive enquiries about the various online formats for our delivery of Education & Training (AET), Assessor…

Axiom Dynamics has liked Axiom Dynamics's Profile 39 minutes ago
SERC has published a new article: College Eco Committee Tackles Littering with Babbling Bins 1 hour 11 minutes ago

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page