From education to employment

‘Apprenticeships are for everyone,’ says regional manager who enrols onto programme in late 20s

Reading man

A regional manager of a national sports coaching company will challenge stereotypes associated with vocational qualifications by studying an apprenticeship from September.

Mark Seary joined Sport4Kids in July 2019 as Head of Childcare and was recently promoted to Manager of the company’s operations in the northwest from its St Helen’s base.

The 28-year-old is responsible for all aspects of Sport4Kids’ school sport, holiday camp, weekend and planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) activity. He also line manages Sport4Kids’ 16 members of staff in the northwest and oversees their personal development.

But Mark’s role will include a fresh dimension in the new academic year as he studies a Level 5 Operations / Departmental Manager apprenticeship. The programme is suitable for experienced operations, regional and department managers and helps them develop new and already established skills to enhance individual qualities and overall productivity.

With almost half – 47% – of the UK’s apprentices aged 25 or older, Mark is encouraging more people to understand the true value of vocational qualifications.

Mark said:

“I know so many people my age or older who have gone back into education either via university or an apprenticeship,” said Mark. “For me, it’s a no-brainer to combine my full-time role with studying for a qualification which will only enhance my current skillsets.

“There is always room for improvement and broadening your knowledge, which is why apprenticeships are so valuable for Sport4Kids as we can train our coaches to the level we want.

“I don’t believe age should be a barrier when considering studying an apprenticeship. Regardless of how qualified you are or your experience, there is an apprenticeship out there for you – with qualifications now covering all sectors and delivered up to degree level.

“I’m looking forward to getting stuck into this new challenge in September and am pleased to be working for an organisation like Sport4Kids which believes strongly in the personal development of its staff.”

Mark’s Level 5 apprenticeship is equivalent to studying a foundation degree and is delivered by registered training provider Ignite Training.

Based in Marston, Oxford, Ignite Training works with organisations across the UK to develop a skilled workforce for the future via its apprenticeship and adult education provisions.

It achieves this via a blended learning approach of face-to-face masterclass sessions, weekly online lessons and supporting the progression of applying skills in the workplace via on-the-job development.

Justin Merritt, Ignite Training CEO, says the company has experienced a rise in the number of people aged 25 and above studying its education programmes.

Justin said:

“Traditionally, apprenticeships have been viewed as serving a small number of sectors and catering for school leavers only,” said Justin. “This assumption could not be further from the truth with people of all ages now enhancing already established skills or facilitating a career change via apprenticeships.

“Mark’s story is a classic example of how vocational qualifications can be used to develop the ability of well-established staff already capable of performing tasks at senior level.

“More people than ever before considered a career change or how they could enhance their professional skills while we were stuck in COVID-19 lockdowns. Now, we’re beginning to see those thoughts and processes be applied in the real world.

“We’d like to wish Mark every success with his Level 5 apprenticeship and look forward to following his progress.”

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