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The voice of an apprentice

Last week I had gave my first speech on my journey so far, talking about my education, the search for an apprenticeship and my time in the work place. The event was hosted by Career Ready, a national charity that links schools and colleges with employers to prepare young people for work. I was invited to contribute to the conversation.

The audience was a mix of school middle and senior leaders and some Careers Co-ordinators, all career leaders from state secondary schools. It was held at Teach First’s stunning offices overlooking the river Thames and the O2.

The session was on Post-16/18 progression, focussing on apprenticeships, as part of the Teach First Careers and Employability Leadership Programme.  It is designed to ensure teachers have an up-to-date understanding of apprenticeships to ensure they form part of their progression advice plans to young people.  

Several apprentices and I shared our stories as to why we chose an apprenticeship over a different progression route, our experience of being an apprentice and what support was missing from our schools that would have been useful. 

Once we had all briefly shared our experiences, the teachers had some time to ask questions. This is where it became evident they all had the same issues. Many didn’t know when students should apply for apprenticeships, the different levels of apprenticeships, how to get parents to support their child’s decision and how to make apprenticeships sound appealing to all students. I think we could have discussed this all day.

All the teachers agreed that it would be great to have a site with all the information they required such as information of apprenticeships, the levels of apprenticeships, the apprenticeships currently available and when to apply for them. 

I thoroughly enjoyed my time speaking and from the feedback received the teachers found it useful to have an apprentice’s insight. They also all thought that it would be useful to have apprentices talk to their students. 

All the apprentices then took part in role play with the teachers who were tasked with offering unbiased career guidance to our fictional student selves. It quickly became evident that the teachers automatically tried to guide each ‘student’ in a particular direction, in part based on their own educational pathway. 

Clearly young people need insight into all routes and opportunities open to them. As part of our campaign work, Edge champions quality careers advice which includes vocational and professional pathways. While I am very happy with the way things have turned out for me, it was really in spite of the advice I was given which was pushing me towards a university education I instinctively knew wasn’t for me. Hopefully, last week’s event will help at least some young people to get the quality, informed careers information and guidance which they badly need. 

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