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Meeting the Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills Anglian Water apprentice

We hear from Elysia, an apprentice at Anglian Water. Here, she tells us about meeting the Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, Gillian Keegan during National Apprenticeship Week 2021 with other apprentices representing key sectors across engineering, engineering, manufacturing and public services.

Elysia Moore, is an Information Services Degree Apprentice at Anglian Water. She works full time whilst studying towards a Digital and Technology Solutions degree.

During National Apprenticeship Week 2021 I had the opportunity to speak with Gillian Keegan MP, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills. The meeting was hosted by Christine Hodgson CEC Chairman, and we were joined by four other young female apprentices, Serena Variah from Severn Trent, Kate Rotherham from Jacobs, Bintou Keita from HS2 and Zara Khan from Walsall Council.

Being a STEM ambassador

I feel very privileged to have been able to personally speak with the Minister, share my experience and ask her questions. It was great to be able to speak with other like-minded people as I am passionate about apprenticeships and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) - this is what led me to become a Young Apprentice Ambassador and a STEM ambassador. Learning that the Minister had started her career as an apprentice in a car factory and built her way up into politics was really inspiring and brings me a sense of motivation to know that you really can get anywhere with an apprenticeship.

Take all the opportunities

Minister Keegan gave us all some advice to take through our careers, this includes to never stop looking ahead and wondering what your next step could be and, having made a great start by choosing an apprenticeship, make sure we think about where we want to go after it. This links into her next points which were to always look to progress and keep learning even after our apprenticeship has finished and to grab any opportunities that we are given with both hands as “there is nothing you cannot do!”. A message that stuck with me is that it is good to be unusual and to find your own unique selling point.

My first question was ‘what are the most significant barriers to young people taking up apprenticeships?’ to which the minister replied that she thinks it is getting a lot better. However, she pointed out that in order to ensure that more young people take up apprenticeships, we need to keep educating them on the different options available, ensure that students have a chance to speak to different companies about the careers available, give them the ability to ask different questions and, most importantly, give students role models to look up to. She went on to say that we were all already great role models for apprenticeships.

There are almost 600 different apprenticeship standards available that could be your ideal career path. Who knew that you could do an apprenticeship as a space engineer!

Inspiring young women into STEM careers

We all got to share our experiences with each other and with the Minister. I explained how my apprenticeship means I combine study for my qualification with a job where I genuinely feel what I do really matters and is having an impact. I also described how being a female apprentice in STEM and sharing my story to inspire other young women is what I love the most.

I gave the following example: “I went into a school and asked the girls to draw a software engineer, they all drew men. Then I could tell them, ‘no, I am a software engineer, and you can be one too.’” And that’s the key to tackling stereotypes - knowledge is power.

I have learnt so much from being an apprentice, from building my resilience all the way to understanding myself, my personality type and working style much more than I would have learned elsewhere. There are so many jobs that I did not know even existed until I got into the workplace.

If you are considering an apprenticeship, the advice I would give is just to go for it. Research the course that they are providing and the companies you are applying for and make sure that it aligns with all your goals. I wish you the best of luck!

Read more about the young apprentices meeting the Minister during National Apprenticeship Week here. 

Find out more about apprenticeships here: www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship