The Industry Apprentice Council with FE Minister Matthew Hancock. From left: Louis Chinea, 24, Jonathan Sixsmith, 22, Drew Reidy, 20, Sam Dutton, 19, Matthew Hancock MP, David Ferguson, 21, Jordan Philips, 18, Sam Ball, 20, Jack Stearn, 19, Natalie Harris, 18, Elizabeth Moffatt, 19, James Turner, 24, John O’Driscoll and Hal Willis, both 20
Thirteen apprentices have come together with a mission to raise the profile of apprenticeships throughout the country.
The group, selected from companies such as BAE systems and Vauxhall and with ages ranging from 18 to 24, has formed to become the first Industry Apprenticeship Council (IAC) and met with FE Minister Matthew Hancock at the House of Commons to canvas him for support.
The IAC joined an All Parliamentary Party Apprentices Group meeting to discuss the government’s apprenticeship strategy following the publication of the Richard Review and raised issues such as schools not pushing apprenticeships and encouraging a perception that vocational routes were secondary to the academic pathway.
The group aired solutions they had come up with such as starting a national advertising campaign to promote the more affluent lifestyle apprentices, they said, could lead compared to their peers and asked Mr Hancock if he would meet with them to take on the proposal.
“How could I say no?” he replied.
Electronic engineer at MBDA Sam Ball said: “We want to start a campaign to show the great experiences we have had like owning a house, speaking in the House of Commons and going on TV. Some of my apprentice friends have driven £120,000 cars.”
The 20-year-old from Bolton added: “We want to encourage the strapline ‘work hard, play harder’.”
Business administration apprentice at Vauxhall Lizzie Moffatt, 19 and from Luton, said: “We want to tell the stories of people from the inside, such as managing directors who started out as apprentices, looking at where they are now.
“We want to show that higher education can be achieved through apprenticeships too.”
Drew Reiddy, an engineering manufacture apprentice at BAE, said the profile of apprenticeships needed to be raised throughout companies themselves with more of a chance for children to go into work places to show them where they could be in a few years’ time.
Sam Dutton, a 19-year-old manufacturing engineering apprentice for KMF, said the value of apprenticeships needed to be promoted to parents as “they were the ones helping to make the important decisions”.
“This could be achieved by going down a commercial route having adverts on websites such as car manufacturers so when a parent was looking at buying a new car they could see a banner pop up promoting apprenticeships,” he said.
Miss Ball added: “It’s important teachers understand the benefits. When I was at school I was told I would waste my abilities doing an apprenticeship.”
Of the 13 group members just one said they were encouraged to take their chosen career path by their school.
Miss Ball said she only became aware of her chosen vocational route because of research she did herself.
“I went to a good college but they were only interested in the university route,” she said. “I didn’t really enjoy the classroom experience anymore so I started looking on websites like NotGoingtoUni.co.uk and found out about it myself.”
She said she liked knowing she made a “contribution” to her organisation and getting involved in groups such as IAC as well as having the chance to do charity work. She was also able to complete a first aid course.
I was told I would waste my abilities doing an apprenticeship”
Jordon Phillips, an 18-year-old mechanical and electrical engineering apprentice at Nestle, said: “I came across Nestle when looking for a two-week work experience placement. They told me about the apprenticeship scheme and I went straight from school to college for a year but through the scheme. It was really good knowing I had the security of a job at the end of it.”
Hal Willis, a 20-year-old aeronautical engineering apprentice for Airbus, told Mr Hancock he felt there was a “lack of information at schools about careers”.
Mr Hancock said: “The best experience people can have is by having information available to them but information is not enough. It is about the quality of that information and being able to navigate your way through the system.”
He spoke of the advantages of destination data, introduced by the government last year to track young people’s chosen paths, and the importance of apprenticeship graduation ceremonies to add value to the achievement and getting young people out into the workplace.
“Research shows that if you have had four interactions with employers, whether that is work or an interview, you are then half as likely to be unemployed as before,” he said.
He said in the future the duty would be on schools to provide careers advice and guidance.
“We will find out from Ofsted how much they are doing with their new duty,” he said.
Mr Hancock added that big companies such as Cadburys should “step up to the plate” and design apprenticeships and pass on the templates throughout the industry.
The IAC has been convened in partnership between EAL, the specialist awarding organisation for industry qualifications, and IMI, the leading awarding body for the retail motor industry.
Ann Watson, managing director of EAL, said: “The members of the council will also become ambassadors for apprenticeships in their sectors, raising their profile and promoting the opportunities to young people at school.
“The IAC members are enthusiastic,
highly skilled, determined and intelligent individuals – superb examples of the standard of industry apprentices.”