This week celebrates the valuable contribution apprentices make to the economy. As a former apprentice I want to encourage all employers and training providers to take this opportunity to re-evaluate the training they offer.
Whilst acknowledging the number of places available is important in the continuing development of apprenticeships, the focus must also be on high quality training to ensure long-term value is delivered. This became apparent to me when I was representing my country at WorldSkills, the international skills competition which comes to London in October.
Competing in WorldSkills gave me the opportunity to develop my professional skills through standards of training that I would never realistically experience in my trade. The four gruelling days of competition were designed to push the boundaries of my capabilities. And added to that was the pressure of competing against 31 of the world’s best electricians. There was no room for error. This was reflected in the diverse and intense regiment of training in the year leading up to Calgary. The benefits of well developed and up to date training are obvious to both employee and employer alike. It is important to recognise how much this training has changed not just my skill set or career but my life.
As the UK prepares to host the 41st WorldSkills Competition, I only hope lessons can be learnt from the training undertaken by the international competitors, many of whom will have completed very different apprenticeships than those run in the UK. Most importantly this knowledge must be used to support and inform the Coalition’s vision of expanding the number of apprenticeships at a higher level.
Former Apprentice and Gold Medallist, Electrical Installation, WorldSkills 2009