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Exclusive: SkillsActive’s Stephen Studd Talks to FE News

Further details have emerged following the news earlier this month that the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is pushing ahead with its programme of Young Apprenticeships (YAs).

In an exclusive interview with FE News, SkillsActive Chief Executive Stephen Studd outlines the upcoming plans to reporter Joel Goldman.

The Programmes

Joel Goldman: “Where are the new programmes due to be set up?”

Mr. Studd: “There are going to be 11 more programmes, with at least 1 in each region. We”re setting up new programmes in Sunderland and Newcastle, Wigan, one in the Dearne Valley in Yorkshire, a further two in the East Midlands and one in Coventry. There will be a new programme in Greenwich, and two more in the South East, along with the existing programmes in Lowestoft and Brighton.”

Joel Goldman: “Who will be taking part?”

Mr. Studd: “Schools have asked to be part of the process and they have been ranked by the Learning and Skills Council and ourselves, and out of that we”ve got a list of priority selected skills. There will be a number of public and private commercial organisations, all of which will be local- the Waverly Leisure Centre in Lowestoft, for instance.

“We”ve got enough confidence from our early success that it’s reasonable to go ahead with the second “cohort”, as the LSC calls it. There’s potential for a third next year but we want to get it right, we want the experiences to be good for young people.”

The Trainers and the Olympics

Joel Goldman: “What sort of qualifications do the programme trainers possess?”

Mr. Studd: “Qualifications will vary depending on the role the trainer does. The apprentices will be supervised by team leaders and line supervisors in the organisations they spend time with, all of whom will be technically competent in their area. So if they”re working in the gym they”ll be under the supervision of the gym supervisor and by the shift supervisor if they are moving equipment and helping with the operation of the centre.

“The apprentices themselves are working towards a level 1 NVQ in sport and recreation and a level 2 technical certificate with underpinning knowledge for level 2 jobs. The major reasons for that are the limits for the age- certain things they can and can”t do under health and safety, and within the facilities.”

Joel Goldman: “Was this YA set up with the 2012 Olympics in mind?”

Mr. Studd: “The people with more experience and qualifications will be the first people we try to recruit from for the Olympics. I think it’s a coincidence in planning but what it has done has made the opportunities more attractive to young people. Across the south east in particular there is a real enthusiasm- the Olympics is a real opportunity to promote, get people involved with and participating in sport. We need more people as coaches, as activity/sports leaders and there is a growing coordinated programme to capitalise on that so the sector can be ready.”

The Reaction

Joel Goldman: “How have the apprentices reacted to the programme so far?”

Mr. Studd: “The feedback has been very positive and on the strength of the response to the first two pilots, we”ve been encouraged to press on. The experience the students are getting is as much around general employability and experiencing the world of work as it is around opening up their vision of what work means. The other benefit is self confidence- the ability to talk and work with adults and young people- and that’s coming through in schools.

“We”ve noticed that the apprentices are actually doing things in a voluntary capacity within school. It has given them the confidence to help out with year 7 activities and that’s been one of the most successful aspects of the programme so far- they get the chance to practise the skills they are learning, at school.

“It’s very important we take the responsibility to make sure the youngsters do get a good support in their placements. We”re at the start of a revolution- with specialised diplomas coming on stream there will be new vocational education routeways in schools. It’s quite an exciting time for vocational education in general, giving young people much wider choices but still with strong key and transferable skills they”ll need for employability.”

All of us at FE News would like to thank Mr. Studd for his time, and wish him all the best for the future.

Joel Goldman

Read more about SkillsActive and Young Apprenticeships right here!

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