A floating bar stool, an iron sculpture of Florence Nightingale, a waterfall of plastic bottles and the infamous robot wars. These were some of the highlights of the Gen2 Apprentice Challenge Grand Final which took place last Tuesday at their Workington head office in Cumbria.
Part of City & Guilds, Gen2 works with over 350 employers in Cumbria, recruiting and training apprentices for leading businesses such as Sellafield. As in other areas of the UK, Cumbria is facing a shortage of skilled workers and apprenticeships continue to be an important solution for this. Gen2’s apprentices have very high attainment and progression rates, even during the height of the pandemic in 2020/21 Gen2 delivered achievement and progression rates of 79% and 90% respectively.
Usually held as part of the National Apprenticeship Week celebrations, the Gen2 apprentice challenge is entered by teams from across Gen2 and really showcases the best of apprentice talent. The teams are judged for their skills and creativity across six categories: the entrepreneurial challenge, where apprentices were tasked with setting up a sustainable business using a £200 starting budget; the carbon zero energy challenge where with just £50 apprentices had to create something powered by an alternative or zero carbon energy source; the classroom resource challenge where apprentices were tasked with creating a story sack for their pupils; the engineering sculpture challenge; the robot wars challenge where apprentices had to build their own multi-functional remote controlled robot to complete an obstacle course, target shooting and balloon popping; and finally the electrical skills test challenge where apprentices had to construct a two-way lighting circuit under timed conditions.
On the finals day there were 350 apprentices, employers and guests at Gen2 and the employers were asked to judge each category. Competition was stiff and it was a difficult task to choose the six winners and runners up from the 38 entries.
City & Guilds CEO Kirstie Donnelly, who was compering the event, commented:
“It’s days like this that really bring home the impact of what we do across City & Guilds. I feel privileged to see so many talented apprentices showcasing their skills and creativity and its clear from speaking to their employers that all of the apprentices have extremely bright futures ahead of them. The relationship between Gen2, its apprentices and their employers is incredibly strong and it’s great to be able to come here and see first-hand what true employer-responsive training looks like.”
The quality of Gen2’s apprentices and its employer relationships was recognised last Thursday at the National Skills Academy for Nuclear (NSAN) awards. Megan Robertson, a former Gen2 nuclear operator apprentice won the Intermediate Apprentice category and Luke Doran, a 5th year process engineer degree apprentice, was shortlisted in the Higher and Degree Apprentice category. Gen2 and NNL Apprentice Kerry Jackson scooped the winning title of Advanced Apprentice of the Year and Gen2 were selected as finalists for the Best Employer and Provider Partnership Award with Sellafield Ltd.