National Apprenticeship Week is a yearly campaign that draws attention to the importance of apprenticeships in upskilling the workforce and the impact this has on employers and individuals across the country.
This year’s theme, ‘Build the Future’, has inspired us to consider how our own apprentices are helping to shape not only their futures, but the future of our organisation. Following last year’s blog, we wanted to catch up with our apprentices and find out how they have progressed within their apprenticeships, and the challenges they have had to overcome during the last year.
Tom – Compliance and Regulation Assistant
“I am around three quarters of the way through my apprenticeship and I’m really starting to build up the knowledge, skills and behaviours that relate to the apprenticeship standard. Various tasks and responsibilities that I have at work, along with assignments and information on the apprenticeship side, are helping me to grow into my role in compliance.
“It has been tough since the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year. While on furlough I was able to take part in online workshops and keep up my reading, however it did feel frustrating that I wasn’t able to progress as quickly as I wanted due to the circumstances. Since I have returned to work, I have picked up where I left off and I’m now happy to be heading towards Gateway and my end-point assessment in the next couple of months.
“2020 was a tough year but I now have renewed determination to get the best possible grade in my apprenticeship and I am looking forward to what the future holds at the Skills and Education Group.”
Tom is doing a Level 4 Regulatory Compliance Officer apprenticeship.
Chris – IT Solutions Technician Apprentice
“My apprenticeship is going really well. I’ve come a long way in terms of my IT knowledge when compared to this time last year which is thanks to my training provider and colleagues. I feel confident that I will do well in my upcoming end-point assessment which I will be taking in the next few months.
“Continuing my apprenticeship has been very challenging during the pandemic, with furlough being one of these challenges. I did fall behind on some work, however thankfully I was given an extension on my apprenticeship and I am now back on track!
“My plan for the future after my apprenticeship is to hopefully continue my employment at the Skills and Education Group and advance onto a higher-level IT/Computing qualification.”
Chris is currently doing a Level 3 IT Solutions Software Technician apprenticeship.
Emily – Brand Officer
“I am currently approaching the Gateway stage with my end-point assessment due in the next few months. The last year has been challenging to the say least, but I feel like I have gained invaluable insights about adapting to difficult circumstances. Like Tom and Chris, along with a lot of apprentices across the country, being placed on furlough proved to be another obstacle to overcome in terms of a continuation of learning.
“I am grateful that my training provider and the Group were very supportive during this time, ensuring that I was still able to progress through my scheme of work. I think this year has really proved how resilient the apprenticeship sector is, and how dedicated employers and apprentices are to building a strong workforce for the future. I’m really looking forward to finishing my apprenticeship this year, and I’m excited for what the future holds.”
Emily has nearly finished completing her Level 4 Marketing Executive apprenticeship.
Paul Eeles, Chief Executive of Skills and Education Group shared his thoughts on how apprentices have become an integral part of the development of the Group.
“We have a commitment to employing and developing apprentices and, over the last decade for a relatively small organisation, we have developed a significant number of apprentices. In the vast majority of cases these apprentices have gone on to become extremely valuable members of our team with many of them gaining promotions.
“Our current apprentices are no exception. They are hard-working, focused and valuable members of the team who add significant value to the Group. I am proud to see how they have made great progress even during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. They have all shown determination and resilience during the last year. Their contribution as a result has been even more key to our own success.”
We also heard from Karen Plowman, Head of Professional Development at Skills and Education Group and Emily’s line manager to understand how apprentices have become a valuable part of upskilling of the workforce.
“The last twelve months have been challenging, but also a great opportunity to review and reflect on how we do things, offering a chance to consider alternative ways of working. Utilising the knowledge and skills of our apprentices has been a real benefit during this time. As they are new to operational practices, our apprentices are able to think objectively and consider new and alternative ways of working.
“I have been Emily’s line manager during the past year, and I am really pleased with the way she that she has adapted well to working remotely, and with much of our marketing and communications completed through digital formats, this has allowed Emily to learn and develop a range of skills that she can now use effectively in her day-to-day activities. Overall, Emily has been able to utilise the knowledge and information provided by her training provider, ensuring that she is able to reflect on her developing skills and behaviours in her work.”
Join the conversation with us @SEG_Awards on Twitter and don’t forget to hashtag #NAW2021 #BuildTheFuture.