From education to employment

New London Scheme Mixes Education and Experience

When my parents finished school they both went into apprenticeship schemes and they often bemoan the lack of similar opportunities for young people these days.

It seems to many that you either go to university, only to become crippled by debt, or get a job at the local supermarket to stack shelves for eternity. Of course this is a rather simplified paradigm, but for many young people that may feel like the case. A new council employment scheme in London, which mixes hands-on experience with college time, has been introduced to square the circle.

The apprenticeships is on offer to 16-21 year olds and provides them with the opportunity of work-based training alongside their study for a National Vpcational Qualification (NVQ) Level 2 in a number of areas. The apprenticeships, which run for one year and can be followed with a degree in the relevant area depending on individual performance, are currently being offered in the social services department, IT, human resources, administration and finance.

In for a Penny, In for a Pound

The entrants work on placement schemes with the council for the term of 12 months, which includes one day a week in college, support and guidance for the duration and a training salary based on the national minimum wage. Students are therefore earning money, gaining invaluable work experience as well as studying for a qualification directly focused on, and helping to develop, the work they do. Indeed, as Louise Frayne, head of human resources for community services, said: “The system is really beneficial for the apprentices, because they get the best of both worlds.”

It is an interesting and appealing option for those young people who wish to breakaway from formal education but who also know the value of qualifications for their long-term prospects. Moreover, if students impress over their apprenticeship then they are helped by council funding should they wish to progress to degree level.

The scheme has attracted the attention of Cllr. Graham Smith, cabinet member for health and social care, who is delighted at the popularity the scheme has built-up. It will be interesting to observe how the iniative will develop and see whether it can help bring about an increase in similar apprenticeship-based ideas.

My mother and father will be happy anyway!

James Ferrow

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