| Blogs

National Apprenticeships Week

National Apprenticeship Week 2021 will be held from the 8th to 14th February 2021.In this interview, we hear from John Yarham, acting CEO of the Careers & Enterprise Company and Anna Morrison, Director of Amazing Apprenticeships about why National Apprenticeship Week 2021 will be more important than ever. 

Q. How are you feeling about National Apprenticeship Week 2021?

Anna: National Apprenticeship Week is always a brilliant week, but I guess it’s fair to say that 2021 is going to feel a bit different to what we’ve had in previous years. We’re planning for a lot of activities to be delivered online and remotely, so in a way that feels less personal, but we will also be able to engage with more people from across the country – so that’s got to be a good thing ultimately. 

John: I agree, what we’ve learnt and developed in 2020 in terms of digital engagement should mean that the week is still brilliant. It will be memorable for different reasons!

Q. Apprenticeship vacancies have reduced significantly from this time last year. Is it right to still be celebrating the week in the usual way?

John: It’s true that despite the best efforts of the government to boost the number of apprenticeships being offered by businesses through the incentives package, we have still not returned to pre-pandemic levels of vacancies. However, we definitely need to ensure that schools and colleges feel equipped to join in with the week and to plan activities and events that will ultimately support their students with their future plans.

Anna: My motto throughout this year has been that we must continue to raise awareness, without raising false expectation. It’s more important than ever that students and their families feel equipped with accurate information about apprenticeships so that they can make well informed decisions about their futures. 

Q. Some schools and colleges are under pressure to prioritise classroom activities that will link directly with exam results and time for careers is being impacted, particularly for students in years 11 and 13. Do you have any advice for those schools?

John: Understandably schools are under immense pressure at the moment. I’m determined to support schools to find ways to incorporate broader issues such as careers within this difficult context and National Apprenticeship Week is an opportunity to carve out some space to talk about apprenticeships. There are a range of resources that can be embedded into curriculum conversations that wouldn’t detract from classroom time but would enrich them to help students to see how their studies can link to their future career options.

Anna: I agree completely. I’ve spoken to quite a few schools who are concerned that their time to be able to talk to students about careers is being squeezed. We can see from our data that our resources are still being accessed and downloaded by schools. This term we’re seeing a trend towards posters to display in classrooms and corridors and also self-directed resources (of which we have loads!) I think this tells us that careers teams are getting creative about how to engage students, and finding other ways to get students thinking about their options.

Q. If schools were to pick one thing to do during National Apprenticeship Week that will have the biggest impact for their students, what should it be?

Anna: Great question! It’s so hard to pick one, but I would say for students, you need to pick an activity that will inspire them and be memorable. I think hearing from a past pupil of the school who has successfully gone onto an apprenticeship would really work. If you could select a student that would have been ‘assumed’ for full time university that would be really impactful too, showing students a real life, local role model who can talk positively about what it’s like to be an apprentice. If you asked them to present online, you could then record it and send it out for teachers and parents/carers to watch too, plus you’ll have it as a resource for future years.

John: You will probably expect me to say this, as clearly awareness of all routes including Apprenticeships (contained within Gatsby Benchmark 7) is a huge priority for us. We’ve made good progress in improving this across the country, but there is still more work to do. My advice would be that now is a time to re-position impartiality in your school. Allowing and equipping all students with the knowledge and support to be able to explore all of their options is really important. Utilise the expertise of your local providers, including colleges, independent training providers and employers. Work with your local Careers Hub and use National Apprenticeship Week as a way to establish the conversation in your school, but then keep the conversation going. Talking about apprenticeships shouldn’t just happen once a year, we want to see it talked about with students and their families as positively and regularly as other options too, so that they feel really confident about what their options are, and how they can apply.

For anyone wanting to find out more about National Apprenticeship Week 2021 and how you can plan your week, please visit www.amazingapprenticeships.com/naw2021

The Careers & Enterprise Company will also be hosting an exclusive webinar with Amazing Apprenticeships on Tuesday 1st December from 3.30pm called Getting Ready for National Apprenticeship Week 2021.

To register please visit: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYsduChrDwuHdR6_fBbmcVKyuU4YwBqGpq

This will be free of charge and recorded, so please register and you will be sent a recording afterwards.