'National Apprenticeship Week may be over – but the work continues'

For a young person, there’s nothing more powerful and persuasive than hearing from their peers about how apprenticeships work, writes Sue Husband

Sue Husband

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As I look back on last week, I’m thrilled that so many people who are passionate about apprenticeships came together to celebrate how apprenticeships work for the eleventh National Apprenticeship Week 2018 (NAW).

University should no longer be the default next step. With more high-quality apprenticeships on offer than ever before, apprenticeships are being increasingly recognised by young people, their parents, employers and schools as an alternative way to progress in a great career. The opportunities offered by apprenticeships are growing all the time, but there’s still more we can do to raise awareness of the benefits apprenticeships can bring to all.  

For a young person, there’s nothing more powerful and persuasive than hearing from their peers about how apprenticeships work. That’s why this NAW, we wanted to give thousands of young people the opportunity to hear first-hand from current and former apprentices. To reach more people than ever before, we targeted apprentices, former apprentices and schools and stakeholders across the country and asked them to come together to take part in our 10,000 talks movement – 10kTalks – and help inspire the next generation of apprentices.

I am delighted to announce that we exceeded our target three times over. More than 300 schools joined us in the movement and helped us reach over 33,500 people with stories of how apprenticeships offer a career path that can take young people to the top.

The quest continues

Although NAW 2018 is now over, the quest to promote apprenticeships continues. Teachers, employers and apprentices should be incredibly proud of England’s thriving apprenticeship culture and we need to continue working together to ensure that apprenticeships and apprentices have the bright future they deserve. Beyond National Apprenticeship Week, schools can still sign-up to arrange talks for their students from inspiring apprentices, and access bespoke resource packages.

We want to see a future where more parents are confident in and supportive of their child’s decision to do an apprenticeship, because they know apprenticeships work. We also want more teachers to encourage all young people to consider an apprenticeship as a route to an exciting career. During NAW, almost 130 schools hosted teacher-to-teacher talks, reaching over 2,300 educators. Teachers ran sessions with their colleagues to spread the apprenticeship message and equip more people with the tools to inform students of the diversity of apprenticeships on offer. Whether it be a level 2 apprenticeship in butchery or a degree apprenticeship in aeronautical engineering, we want more people to be aware of the variety of opportunities out there.

Equally, more and more employers are recognising that apprenticeships are a fantastic way to develop their workforce and grow their own talent. During NAW, students were inspired by top employers and their apprentices at companies including Capgemini, IBM, JP Morgan Unilever, and Microsoft through the National Apprenticeship Service Live video series. 

We know there is still more work to do.  Yet, the unprecedented success of the 10kTalks movement shows there is a significant appetite for us to engage with even more schools, and together we can help inspire many more students to consider an apprenticeship. With all of us continuing to champion apprenticeships, we are confident of a bright future.

Sue Husband is director of the National Apprenticeship Service

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