In the very week that Worcester’s youth unemployment figures reached a record low, Worcester’s MP, Robin Walker hosted a roundtable discussion with local businesses, apprentices and schools at the Worcestershire County Cricket Club to promote apprenticeships more widely.
Robin, who sits on the Select Committee for Business Innovation and Skills as well as the All Party Apprenticeship Group had the opportunity to listen to first hand feedback from active apprentices in Worcester about what encouraged them to go into an apprenticeship scheme, as well as hearing from local schools and colleges as to what they are actively doing to make young people aware of the variety and opportunities that modern apprenticeships offer.
Worcester has a huge variety of apprentices, ranging from some of its oldest established institutions such as Worcester Cathedral to a 21st century company such as Titania, designing cyber security software for organisations such as the US Department of Defence. Other businesses supporting the event included Worcester Bosch, Mazak, Sanctuary Housing and Barclays Bank.
Emily Draper, apprentice stone-mason at Worcester Cathedral, is an apprentice stonemason who came into her work after taking a degree and said “If I was more aware of apprenticeships when I was younger, I would have jumped at it”. Currently in a 5 year apprenticeship with the Cathedral and loving it, Emily said the best thing about apprenticeships is the continuity of skills being passed on.
Worcester based Green Lighting Ltd, who are the employer of Worcestershire’s ‘Apprentice of the Year’ Ryan Shemwell, said that apprenticeships have been a beneficial investment for them. Green Lighting are one of the many companies in Worcester expanding to offer more apprenticeships, as of last week they were taking on another four apprentices in addition to their current seven. Ryan also commented saying that without his apprenticeship; he wouldn’t be as successful as he is today.
It was clear from the roundtable event that apprenticeships have a huge impact both for business and the lives of young people by providing high quality training whilst earning. All of the apprentices present at the event expressed satisfaction with their apprenticeships and would recommend young people to look into apprenticeship schemes and their vast variety; from marketing, insurance, design, business administration, engineering, project management, hospitality to stone masonry. Employers stressed that they value the opportunity to give people work experience in a structured way and develop their skills towards long term employment.
In the Autumn Statement in December, the Chancellor announced a new tax incentive for businesses to take on apprentices under the age of 25 and he and the Prime Minister have both set out an ambition for the country to deliver 3 million apprentices during the course of the next Government.
On December 9th, it was confirmed that the 2 millionth apprentice of the current Government had been achieved, meeting one of the key targets of this coalition Government. At the roundtable event, the apprentices present held up signs saying “I am one of 2million, Thank You”. Robin is going to produce a film with testimony from apprentices at the event to promote the concept of apprenticeships with local schools and careers advisers.
Commenting on the event Robin said;
“It has been a huge achievement of the Coalition Government to double the number of apprenticeships and to achieve the milestone of 2 million across the UK even whilst increasing the quality of the offer and making sure every apprentice gains real work experience and real qualifications. We discussed some of the common myths about apprenticeships such as the idea that they replace other jobs or that they only support people temporarily. It was clear that all the employers present recognised that they were investing in their apprentices for the long term and that it was in their interest to keep them as long term employees. It was inspiring to hear from some former apprentices achieving success and promotion within their firms and to discuss examples such as the management of Worcester Bosch who started their career as apprentices.”
“I am really excited about the prospect of the next Government creating another million opportunities for people to thrive, learn and earn in this way. I want to make sure local businesses, schools, colleges and parents all understand the variety of opportunities available and appreciate the quality of modern apprenticeships. These are real gateways into a career. It is no coincidence that over the same period that apprenticeships have doubled in Worcester the number of young people out of work has halved but we should not just see apprentices as statistics, the really vital thing is the opportunities for development that they offer. The bright young people in the room were excellent ambassadors for everything that apprenticeships have to offer.”
Notes to Editors:
Companies and Organisations Present;
o Worcester Bosch
o Yamazaki Mazak
o St John’s Windows and Doors
o Green Lighting Ltd
o Worcester Cathedral
o Heart of Worcestershire College
o Titania Securites Ltd
o Sanctuary Group
o Barclays Bank
o Bishop Perowne College
o Worcester Sixth Form College
For further information about the Government’s Apprentice Scheme visit:
To see Robin’s previous work and commentary on apprenticeships: