The annual National Apprenticeships Week #NAW2020 (a week-long celebration of apprenticeships across England) ran from Monday 3 to Friday 7 February.

The theme of this year’s Week was ‘Look beyond’ – encouraging people to look beyond the traditional stereotypes around apprenticeships.

What is an apprenticeship?

It’s a real job, with hands-on experience, a salary and the chance to train while you work. If you’re an apprentice, just like in any other job, you work for, and are paid by, the organisation that employs you. You’ll have a contract of employment and get holiday leave too, but the difference is that you do training or learning (typically at a college, university or another training provider) for at least 20% of each week.

Apprenticeships are for everyone, not just young people or those in blue-collar jobs. Look beyond the old stereotype that apprentices are all teenage brickies or car mechanics – you can be an apprentice at any age or educational level (example: the Group’s Director of Marketing has years of experience and she’s recently started a high-level apprenticeship!) Hundreds of different types of apprenticeships are available, in a wide range of industries and organisations, from small local organisations to large national brands. Your training is funded by contributions from the government and your employer, and you get paid a regular salary.  What’s not to like?

As one of London’s leading apprenticeship providers, delivering over 1,250 apprenticeships in 2019, we were at a range of events across our colleges and London, to promote apprenticeships and to inspire Londoners of all ages to find out more about apprenticeships.

On Monday 3 February, current and prospective students at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) were invited to learn more about the Group’s impressive apprenticeship training provision. Around forty students asked staff from the Group’s training arm (Capital City College Training) about apprenticeships at the CONEL’s Tottenham Centre. For many completing their Level 2 course in summer, a Level 3 apprenticeship will be the perfect next step towards a fulfilling career in plumbing, IT or construction. Overlapping with Monday’s open evening, the stand also gave prospective CONEL students a taste of the diversity of experience on offer at the college.

The NHS are key partners of the Group and we’re currently providing training to over 200 NHS apprentices in non-clinical roles including Business Administration, Pharmacy, Project Management, Team leading, Healthcare Support Worker, Customer Service and Accounting. So, also on Monday, we visited Ealing Hospital, to chat to staff members there about our range of apprenticeships opportunities for them.

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On Tuesday 4 February, Lloyds Bank visited City and Islington College’s sixth form college with ex-student and apprentice Francisco, to talk about the apprenticeship programme in the bank’s Audit Department.

Staff from Capital City College Training (CCCT) also went to events at Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow and Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust’s West Middlesex Hospital, where they spoke to people interested in apprenticeships in Business Administration, Team Leading, Project Management and Pharmacy.

Wednesday saw us at City and Islington College’s Centre for Business, Arts and Technology (CBAT) campus on the Camden Road, where students turned out for an apprenticeship fair supported by local businesses. As well as networking opportunities and the chance to talk to staff from Capital City College Training, students met representatives of the London Fire Brigade, White Hat, the Association of Accounting Technicians, Islington Giving and Park Theatre.

Patricia, a City and Islington student, told us:

“I think apprenticeships are really useful for a lot of students. Different people have different needs; some people may go to university and some might do apprenticeships or go into work. I think these kinds of events are really important for them to know better their options and the different routes they can take.”

We were also at Westminster Kingsway College’s King’s Cross campus, where we welcomed apprenticeship providers and employers including White Hat, BT, Goldman Sachs, Willmott Dixon, BDO and others, to another Apprenticeships Fair. At the Fair, students and Camden secondary school pupils had the opportunity to talk to all these employers about their apprenticeship programmes.

The Fair also included an interactive panel session, with five apprentices from amazing companies in a range of industries. The apprentices (Harvey Baker from law firm Herbert Smith Freehills; Keanu Brouard from VFX experts DNEG; Andrico Zacharia from the global finance firm Goldman Sachs; Harvey Morton from the media communications agency Starcom; and Sofija Venckute from BT, the global telecommunications and broadcasting company) told the student audience about their experiences and shared some nuggets of wisdom on how to handle interviews and assessment centres. Advice ranged from “Look smart and get there early” to “Know the company: be prepared and practice beforehand” and “Smile. It relaxes you and you perform better”.

We ended the week with a bang on Friday, with events at Camden Council, CONEL’s Tottenham site, and a joint Bectu (the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union) and Westminster Kingsway College Creative Industries Apprenticeships Fair at the colleges’ King’s Cross campus.

Not to be left out, apprentices from Accenture (the multinational professional services company) visited City and Islington’s sixth form college on Friday, to help our Computer Science A level students consider their next steps after college.  Accenture run a Technology Degree Apprenticeship programme, so maybe some of our A level students will ‘look beyond’ the traditional A levels-to-university path and choose that – or another degree apprenticeship – instead?

And finally, Friday also saw us on national television, as the BBC’s Alice Baxter interviewed CONEL’s Curriculum Manager for Construction, Paul Oatham, at a BAM Construction building site in Birmingham, for a piece shown on the BBC News Channel on National Apprenticeship Week.

National Apprenticeship Week has been a great opportunity to celebrate apprenticeships and raise awareness of this – still misunderstood – career path, but we’re providing apprenticeships all 52 weeks of the year. 

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