National Apprenticeship Week 2021
This year marks the 22nd year that I have worked in learning and skills and been closely associated with Apprenticeships.
In that time governments have changed colour, the funding body has changed its name a few times and the rules and regulations around Apprenticeships have changed frequently. There have been a number of ‘ground breaking’ reports that have considered the benefits of Apprenticeships for Employers and Apprentices and questioned what can be done to drive the uptake of Apprenticeships both for young people starting their careers and for people already in the workforce developing new skills. In the case of these reports, I’m still wating to see the majority of recommendations come to anything!
One constant, since 2007, has been National Apprenticeship Week, the annual celebration of all things Apprenticeships and an opportunity for the Employers, Apprentices and Providers to promote Apprenticeships to those considering becoming an Apprentice or running an Apprenticeship programme.
Now, at the start of National Apprenticeship Week 2021, we will see case studies and videos about Apprenticeships all over social media and they are great at providing an insight into the reality of Apprenticeships.
In all of the case studies and social media post about the great work Apprentices have done and the benefit that Employers get from operating Apprenticeship schemes I often feel that the people at the coal face, the people working day in day out with the Apprentices and their Employers get somewhat overlooked.
Particularly in the last year, all of us working for Apprenticeship Providers have seen our day-to-day work turn on its head. Tutors and Coaches doing everything remotely, Salespeople not having the face-to-face engagement with employers and leaders of the organisations managing distributed teams through phone calls and Zoom.
I think the majority of us were drawn to the sector due to the human interaction it promised, so this remoteness has been really hard. That’s why I’m consistently amazed when I see the results that we’re achieving here at SR Apprenticeships and I read the great news the other Providers post online. I’m also amazed by the resilience of colleagues in the sector who have found themselves out of work but have found new roles and are now doing great things for their new Employers.
As a sector we’ve dug in and achieved a lot this year, and when we ‘achieve a lot’ that means Employees are progressing and completing their Apprenticeships and Employers are benefitting from a workforce that has better and better skills. Employees benefit, Employers benefit, the economy benefits.
So my heroes for National Apprenticeship Week 2021 are the people who go to work each day in the Apprenticeship sector. People who have enthusiastically and consistently supported Apprentices and Employers in achieving the ambitions that they had when they started out on their Apprenticeship journeys regardless of the circumstances.
Today I don’t care whether you’re an SR Apprenticeships employee or an employee at one of our biggest competitors. I’d like to say thank you for all you do and have done, and I hope others will give you a (virtual) pat on the back and thank you as well.