From education to employment

Championing the right for young people to make informed choices this National Apprenticeship Week

The Mayor of Greater Manchester is encouraging Year 11 students to explore all of their career options this National Apprenticeship Week as they continue to consider their next steps after school.

With two in three of the city-region’s young people not accessing higher education through the traditional university pathway, Mayor Andy Burnham is keen ensure that they are clear on the various routes available to them as they take another step forward to their working lives.

National Apprenticeship Week takes place between 5th and 11th February this year with the theme ‘Skills for Life’, which focuses on how apprenticeships can set people up with the lifelong skills and learning needed to kick-start and maintain successful careers.

In 2023, the Mayor launched his vision for Greater Manchester to be the UK’s first integrated technical education city-region, placing a high focus on work-based opportunities and engaging with businesses to ensure education is reflective of local need.

This year will see the launch of the Greater Manchester Baccalaureate, which will support this ambition and will offer a clear line of sight to various technical opportunities to those young people aged between 14 and 18 who would prefer to pursue a work-related route such as an apprenticeship or a T Level.

Speaking about his plans, the Mayor said:

“In Greater Manchester, we champion the right for all our young people to make informed choices about their futures. The only way we can do that is by empowering them with the right guidance and making all routes to employment as clear as possible.

“Connecting businesses with education settings can also expose young people to the varied and thriving employment opportunity that our city-region boasts.

“The Greater Manchester Baccalaureate will mark the start of a revolutionised local skills system that will make work-focused pathways and technical education opportunities much more accessible and visible.

“In the meantime, I implore all of our current Year 11’s and Year 10’s to access the free online Greater Manchester Apprenticeships and Careers Service so they can consider all options appropriately. I’m sure there will be many who aspire to move into higher education but we know there is a large group who don’t want to do this and are still unsure what their options are. GMACS explores all of this and more.”

Harrison Turnock, 17, from Hyde, successfully secured an apprenticeship with chemical manufacturing company, Stepan UK Ltd, last summer after attending a ‘Workplace Safari’ with his former school, Alder Community High School.

Designed to give students a chance to visit real workplaces and speak with current employees about their experiences, Workplace Safaris are also a chance for businesses to open their doors to young people across Greater Manchester, helping to build their wider understanding of the world of work, as well as upskilling teachers and educational professionals by showcasing the amazing breadth of careers across Greater Manchester.

Harrison said: “I was in a chemistry lesson when my teacher told us about the opportunity to visit Stepan. I’d always thought engineering would be interesting so I decided to go along.

“Everyone was really friendly and I liked the atmosphere so when the apprenticeship opportunity was advertised in school, I spoke to my teacher about applying and he supported me with my application, which I’m really grateful for.

“My older brother had an apprenticeship and I’d seen how he’d been earning money as well as showing commitment to work, so I wanted the same. I know that when I finish the apprenticeship, the experience I’ll have gained will go a long way when I come to further my career.”

Workplace Safaris are an initiative of the Mayoral campaign, Meet Your Future, and was developed by the Youth Employment and Opportunities team at the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and the Careers and Enterprise Company.

In Stepan’s case, an employee, Viv Dennis, engaged with GMCA about becoming an Enterprise Adviser, which would allow her and the business to be partnered with a local school or college in a bid to dispel sector misconceptions, raise the profile of their industry and connect young people to experiences of the workplace, ultimately widening talent pipelines.

After becoming an Enterprise Adviser, Viv was matched with Alder Community High School. Speaking about her involvement supporting the school and its students, Viv said:

“Stepan has been committed to supporting local communities for a long time so when we heard about the Enterprise Adviser role, it aligned with our values and what we were trying to achieve as a business.

“As well as offering an insight into our industry and day-to-day business activities, offering Workplace Safaris and apprenticeships encourages engagement across the workforce and our existing employees gain a lot by speaking to students and mentoring apprentices.

“When we offer Workplace Safaris, I always ensure that students are able to speak to several people with varying experiences for example, an employee who has gone through the traditional university route, a degree apprentice and a school apprentice so that they can understand the wider picture and help them to make more informed decisions.”

Following his appointment, Harrison will support the delivery of Stepan’s next Workplace Safari and will speak with his former younger classmates, drawing on his recent experiences.

For more information about the education pathways and employment routes available to the city-region’s young people, please visit here.

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