From education to employment

MOD & The 5% Club gather major employers at INVICTUS UK trials to support #apprentices

Leigh College sports students learn from Invictus Games star and elite coach

The Ministry of Defence and The 5% Club, two of the UK’s biggest supporters of apprenticeships, will today urge employers to prioritise building life skills in more young people at an event in Sheffield during the Invictus UK trials.

The Ministry of Defence is a member of The 5% Club, and together they are co-hosting a member event that will be attended by major national employers, including GSK, Balfour Beatty and QinetiQ.

At the ‘Developing Apprentices Beyond their Apprenticeships’ event at Sheffield City Hall, employers of young apprentices will describe how participation in schemes inside and outside of the workplace has helped young people to build their resilience and confidence.

Suela Murati has been an apprentice at pharmaceutical company GSK for less than a year. She completed an Outward Bound course in April 2019, where she worked with 80 other GSK apprentices to develop skills, such as teamwork and communication whilst participating in activities like abseiling and ghyll scrambling. 

Steve Stewart, GSK Global Apprentice Lead and speaker at the event, said:

“Suela has progressed fantastically since she did the course. She is organising a large event for more than 2000 employees this year – a job Suela says she could never have done before she did Outward Bound.”

The 5% Club has nearly 400 member organisations, from the private and public sectors and a range of industries, including construction, hospitality and engineering. Members aspire to achieve five percent of their workforce in ‘earn and learn’ positions, including apprentices, sponsored students and graduates on formalised training schemes. The 5% Club supports members in sharing knowledge and best practice.

Lt Col Ingrid Hall OBE, who leads the apprenticeship programme for the Armed Forces said:

“The Ministry of Defence is co-hosting this event with The 5% Club because the Armed Forces place great importance on building life skills in our serving personnel and civil servants. The Armed Forces has one of the largest nationally recognised apprenticeship programmes in the UK with around 20,000 personnel enrolled on it at any one time.

Defence needs a skilled, sustainable, capable workforce trained and equipped to protect the nation’s interests; the MoD apprenticeship programme is intrinsic to achieving this aim.  The skills and qualifications gained by military personnel throughout their careers, including apprenticeships, make them highly employable beyond their military Service.”

This member event is one of a series of events organised by The 5% Club throughout the year.

Lady Cobham CBE, Director General of The 5% Club said: 

“The 5% Club is proud that our members are coming together during the Invictus UK trials to demonstrate their commitment to developing apprentices in the most beneficial way. It is clear that building life skills in young people is an important part of that process. I find it heartening to hear of the various pilots and schemes that our members are putting young people on and the positive results they are yielding. It is so valuable for employers to share knowledge in this way.

“The 5% Club wants to see more young people starting and completing good quality apprenticeship training, and able to access schemes that improve them as employees and people.” 

Amy Large, Emerging Talent Advisor for Balfour Beatty, an early member of The 5% Club and an UK-wide employer, is speaking at the event and said:

“At Balfour Beatty, our apprentices get immediate and meaningful involvement in infrastructure that shapes daily life, such as the Manchester Engineering Campus Development. We employ over 300 apprentices across the UK and recruit around 150 additional ones each year. 

“Investing in future leaders and retaining talent are key priorities for Balfour Beatty. We want to provide our apprentices with a valuable and satisfying career which means offering opportunities to further themselves beyond their apprenticeship. We see the value in going above and beyond whether this is supporting Reservists during their Apprenticeship, providing volunteering opportunities, taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh scheme or working with other members of The 5% Club.

“As we face a skills shortage in the construction and infrastructure industry, its critical we provide the younger generations with a wealth of experience and opportunities to show them how valuable life skills, such as teamwork, problem-solving and communication can really enable an exciting and rewarding life-long career”. 

According to Department for Education statistics there were over 814,000 apprenticeships in England in 2017/18, with almost 97,000 in Yorkshire and the Humber. 

The event is taking place in Sheffield, alongside the Invictus UK trials which is being held to help select the team who will represent the UK at next year’s Invictus Games at The Hague in May 2020. Over 350 wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans will compete in 9 adaptive sports over 4 days of competition.


Members of The 5% Club will meet at Sheffield City Hall on Tuesday 23 July 2019 to discuss Developing the Apprentice Beyond the Apprenticeship – Building Skills for Life. The 5% Club is a charity and is free for businesses of all sizes and sectors to join.

By joining The 5% Club, members aspire to reach 5% of their workforce in ‘earn and learn’ positions, including apprenticeships, sponsored student schemes and graduate training, within five years of joining.

The 5% Club consists of nearly 400 businesses from 22 sectors of the economy. It includes large and small employers – almost half of the members are small and medium-sized enterprises, and from the public and private sectors.

Five top tips from The 5% Club on building apprentices’ life skills:

1. Reverse mentoring more senior employees

‘Reverse mentoring’ entails switching up a traditional mentoring approach by younger employees supporting more experienced employees with developing skills like using technology or communicating with younger generations. Reverse mentoring schemes benefit both the mentor and mentee, creating connections across generational divides and empowering our younger generations to develop others.

2. Taking part in team challenges

Physical challenges such as Outward Bound, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and the Brathay Challenge can help to build confidence, teamwork and leadership in apprentices very quickly.

3. Time off for military or police service or volunteering

Encouraging apprentices to volunteer for service in their community can complement the skills they acquire from their apprenticeship training. Many members of The 5% Club, such as Balfour Beatty and Serco, have also signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant. They are forces friendly employers and encourage staff to become reservists, support staff with family members in the military, and employ ex serving personnel. 

4. One-to-one coaching

Coaching provides people with one-to-one support from a coach who is independent to an individual’s management chain and team. Coaching provides apprentices with an opportunity to explore how to handle their new responsibilities and can also help them to learn important life skills. 

5. Looking after personal wellbeing

When thinking about how to develop their career and perform at the highest level, the number one priority for apprentices should be to look after themselves and their own wellbeing.

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