East Sussex College got behind #NationalApprenticeshipWeek last week by hosting apprenticeship workshops and myth-busting sessions at each of its campuses.

Each year, the college supports the National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) campaign to champion all the great things about on-the-job training and help young people to make the best decisions about starting an apprenticeship after school or college.

Alongside their apprenticeship and training specialist, Sussex Skills Solutions, the college hosted pop-up apprenticeship workshops at its campuses in Eastbourne, Hastings, and Lewes to encourage young people to ‘Look Beyond’ some of the myths about apprenticeships and see the diverse range of available roles.

Stephen Burkes, Director of Sussex Skills Solutions, said, “National Apprenticeship Week is a fantastic campaign that encourages people to start talking about Apprenticeships. However, there is still more we can do to start these conversations. Figures released by the Department for Education at the end of January showed that the number of Apprenticeship starts in England and fell by 3.3 per cent during the first quarter (August 2019 to October 2019), compared to the same period in 2018.”

To encourage more people to join the apprenticeship conversation NAW used social media to host #AskAnApprentice and #AskAnEmployer question and answer sessions.

Niamh Carroll is currently studying a Commis Chef Apprenticeship and is working in the kitchens of one of Hastings’ most-loved pubs, The Crown.

The young chef loves everything about earning and learning and feels this pathway is giving her a head start in her career.

Niamh said, “I think apprenticeships are great because you fully understand what it’s like to work in your chosen environment. Since starting this role I’ve learnt so much, what it’s like to be a chef for a start, but also about the industry, the different foods, where our fresh produce comes from, and how to work fast and under pressure.

“With an apprenticeship, you’re not sat in a classroom trying to picture how to do the job, you’re actually doing it. You’re learning how to deal with customer complaints or cater for customers with allergies. You have to take it seriously and try your best to make sure that the customer is happy.

“I’d encourage anyone thinking about an apprenticeship to go for it. You need to look beyond any of the initial things that might not appeal to you. Before I started at The Crown, I thought that the Catering industry was predominantly for men. But times have changed and, thankfully, there are loads more opportunities for women to run their own kitchens, restaurants, and other hospitality businesses.”


Andrew Swan is the owner and Head Chef at The Crown in the Old Town in Hastings and thinks that Apprentices should be seen as a real asset to any business.

Andrew said, “I think Apprenticeships are great. Not everyone is cut out for traditional education. Not everyone is suited to exams or going on to university. Some people are practically minded and learn on the job, which is why I think apprenticeships are tangible and help young people to see an end goal.

“Apprentices add real value to our business, they are friendly and cheerful and bring energy to the team. We value passion, interest, professionalism, friendliness and hard work over previous experience. I think it’s important for employers to look beyond what apprentices can’t do, or what they might lack in skills, and recognise what they can do in terms of giving a business an injection of enthusiasm.

“We’ve had three apprentices and they’ve all been keen to work their way up, relishing the chance to put dishes on our menu and work on the cook line. Niamh is no different. She works the cook line and on the pass for busy weekend shifts, serving large tables and events with a calm and considered manner. Her professionalism and passion are always at the forefront and she’s a great addition to the team.”

If you’re a student and thinking about starting an apprenticeship then why not get in touch through the college website or call 030 300 39777. The experienced team can give you all the information and help you need to find the course that is right for you.

If you’re an employer thinking about hiring an apprentice, then you should get in touch too. The account managers have a wealth of experience and can pick from the college's extensive talent bank of apprentices to match the right person for your business.

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