From education to employment

Pioneering apprenticeship programme for 14 to 16-year-olds celebrates successful first year at Cardiff and Vale College

A unique initiative to offer more vocational career routes to 14 to 16-year olds at Cardiff and Vale College has been so successful the Welsh Government is looking to roll the programme out across Wales.

The Welsh Government is encouraging other colleges and local authorities to pick up on CAVC’s Young Apprenticeship programme.

Jointly funded by Welsh Government Creative Solutions, CAVC, Cardiff Council and Cardiff schools, the Junior Apprenticeship programme was launched in September 2016 to increase the number of young people in education, employment and training.

Offering Year 10 and 11 pupils the opportunity to study full-time for a future career in a college setting from the age of 14, the Junior Apprenticeship programme is the only one of its kind in Wales and has seen the first cohort of Year 11s all successfully graduate and secure a place on a higher level course at CAVC or an apprenticeship.

Kay Martin, Principal of Cardiff and Vale College, said: “There has been comprehensive 14-16 learning pathway provision operating in colleges across the UK for the last 25 years offering many learners half-day or one-day vocational programmes. The Junior Apprenticeship programme takes that model significantly further.


“It helps young people who might have thought that school wasn’t for them by offering alternative career routes in a fresh environment, providing challenges and a chance to learn in a way they can identify with. We wanted to support schools while creating a culture of success and increase opportunities for learners who are most at risk of disengaging from mainstream education.


“We wanted to support those young people identified as the most vulnerable by creating genuine opportunities that motivate them, excite them and raise their aspirations – and that’s where the Junior Apprenticeship programme came in.”


The two-year programme is designed for Year 10 pupils and comprises work-related education with work experience and CV building alongside a Level 2 course that is equivalent to four or five GCSEs in six different vocational pathways. These pathways cover Welsh Government priority areas: automotive, construction, hospitality and catering, creative, hair and beauty, and public services.

Each apprentice also studies GCSEs in English and Maths alongside their chosen area.

Particular emphasis is placed on the requirements of each apprentice with a designated Learning Coach to support teaching and learning and help with behaviour management. Welfare Officers support day-to-day issues and provide pastoral care and additional support sessions for English, Maths and Welsh are held weekly.

Kay explained: “The valuable dialogue and real partnership working with both the schools and Cardiff Council have been crucial to the success of the programme in its inaugural year, and the stories of success speak for themselves.


“We have learners who hadn’t previously attended school for a whole year now achieving over 90% attendance; of the Cardiff learners who were identified as the most vulnerable, 75% are no longer considered to be in that category based on their attendance, engagement and progress; all 19 of the Year 11 graduates successfully completed their programme with two successfully completing in just one year; and 51 young people are currently enrolled from 13 schools across the region.”

Cardiff Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills Cllr Sarah Merry said: “The successful first year of junior Apprenticeships is extremely encouraging. Having visited Cardiff and Vale College to talk to the students, it is clear that, since its introduction, the programme has been very beneficial for those whose needs were not being met by the curriculum.


“As part of our Capital Ambition, we want to ensure that every child and young person in the city has access to training, employment or further education opportunities. Delivering the Junior Apprentices scheme with our schools, Welsh Government and Cardiff and Vale College, plays an important part in helping us to achieve that.


“Education is everybody’s business. By working with our partners in education and business, we can get the best for our schools and the city.


“It is vital that we provide a choice for Cardiff’s children and young people; providing vocational as well as academic routes into successful, long-term employment. It has been a good start for the Junior Apprenticeship programme and I look forward to seeing us build on the success of the scheme’s first year.”

Sixteen-year-old Tibor Cervenak is one of the first junior Apprenticeship graduates. He impressed the College so much with his attitude and ability that he was offered a full-time apprenticeship in the Building Services Department just days after graduating.

“The Junior Apprenticeship was excellent – it was something that definitely motivated me and gave me an overview of what I wanted to do in the future,” Tibor said. “I learned skills I wouldn’t have learned in school.


“I’ve always wanted to work in the construction industry and that comes from my mum’s side of the family. All of my mum’s family work in the construction industry.


“College gives young people a chance to start fresh, and gives them a second chance to really focus on the specific trades or jobs they want to do. For me this was the best decision I could have made.”

Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language, Alun Davies said: “I am committed to providing young people in Wales with as many opportunities as possible to gain valuable insight into the world of work, which can also help prepare them for many of the important decisions they face at key stages in their education. I have therefore been following the success of the Junior Apprenticeship scheme with interest and have been especially pleased to hear how the programme is increasing educational opportunities for young people in Cardiff and the Vale.”

Notes to Editors


  • Phot shows one of the first cohort of CAVC Junior Apprentices, 15-year-old Jack Henderson
  • In 2016 CAVC won the prestigious UK-wide Association of Colleges Beacon Award for its innovative and sector leading apprenticeship provision
  • Cardiff and Vale College is one of the top companies for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the National Centre for Diversity’s 2016 Top 100 Index. It has also been awarded the National Centre for Diversity’s Award for Welsh FE College of the Year 2016
  • Cardiff and Vale College was awarded College of the Year at the 2015 and 2016 Insider Business and Education Partnership Awards
  • Why not follow the latest updates from Cardiff and Vale College on LinkedIn: CardiffandValeCollege or Twitter: @CAVCEmployers

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