The Association for Apprentices (AoA) has announced a new social networking channel and a training platform to better support current and former apprentices.
AoA Connect will be a social networking channel created especially for apprentices and developed in direct response to their feedback. It will offer a platform for peer-to-peer support and allow members to connect with other apprentices based on their region, industry or interest. AoA Connect will also give members access to specially curated content, events and targeted industry news, all designed to keep them informed and engaged.
Meanwhile, AoA Learn will provide tools to aid their progression, including interactive tools, e-learning content and development opportunities. Both will get under way in September.
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AoA founder Jason Holt said the association was led by apprentices and “the feedback from our Apprentice Council and members has been vital in helping us evolve the association to create a platform that supports all UK apprentices”.
He said: “Having taken early steps to establish the association, we are delighted to be able launch this next iteration, which represents a significantly enhanced service to apprentices. Whether you’re an apprentice in Belfast or Birmingham, Wrexham or Glasgow, and no matter the sector, this if for you.
“We are particularly excited with the opportunity for apprentices to network, create forums, and empower them with the latest information and knowledge. We’d love to hear from any apprentice, employer or provider who’d like to know what more they can do to maximise their apprentice experience.”
The Association of Apprentices was created in 2019 in an effort to help boost the number of apprentices staying on and completing their programme. It is a membership service created for apprentices, by apprentices, led by a council made up of current and past apprentices. It was founded by the government’s apprenticeship ambassador chair Jason Holt, former Lord Mayor of the City of London Sir Peter Estlin and co-founder of venture builder Blenheim Chalcot, Charles Mindenhall.
Extending employer incentives
Meanwhile, figures published by the government today showed that, since May 2015, there have been 2,464,400 apprenticeship starts. Higher apprenticeships accounted for nearly a third of starts, while intermediate apprenticeships accounted for a quarter. Under 19s accounted for around 1 in 5 starts.
Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief executive Jane Hickie said: “Today’s figures confirm the need to extend the employer incentives for apprenticeships beyond September. The incentives are working for young people and this is why we want any extension to be focused on them. At the same time, they are really vital to support the economic recovery and we are concerned that apprenticeship vacancies overall plateaued in July.”
The fact that only 875 traineeship incentives have been paid out so far “says more about the fact that the government has not expanded the number of providers able to engage with employers, to show them the merits of this highly effective programme,” he said. “We welcome the fact that these incentives are available to the end of the academic year.”