A Master’s level qualification, in five years, with no student debt? It’s worth considering an apprenticeship

Last year, education foundation, the Sutton Trust, published some encouraging statistics.

According to researchers, the best apprentices – those with a level 5 qualification – could earn £50,000 more in their lifetime than someone with an undergraduate degree from a university outside of the Russell Group.

For those who were still holding onto the belief that university was the only route to a rewarding career, the report was just the latest piece of evidence pointing to the contrary.

Over the last two years, there have been an estimated 30,000 higher apprenticeships created with more predicted thanks to the Government’s focus on creating three million apprenticeships by 2020.

Whether you agree with this goal – and, as I have written previously, many do not – or with the methods being used to obtain it, it’s certainly positive that young people are being increasingly offered viable alternatives to higher education.


‘Unspent levy money will be used to maintain SME apprenticeship funding’

The government has sought to re-assure small and medium-sized employers (SMEs) there will be enough apprenticeship levy money left over for them.

Skills Minister Nick Boles has re-emphasised plans to make SMEs rely on unspent apprenticeship levy funds from larger companies to pay for their training.

Mr Boles told the House of Commons this afternoon that the £2.5bn raised by the levy for training in England would be expected to stretch to cover all employers with apprentices, regardless of their size.

The apprenticeship levy will only be paid by employers with a payroll of more than £3m, which has led to questions over whether smaller companies which aren’t contributing to the levy pot will continue to receive the funding they currently get from government.

But Mr Boles told Parliament today that he expected SMEs to “carry on spending money on apprenticeships, receiving government money for apprenticeships” in the same way that they do now, funded by levy proceeds not used by larger organisations.

Read more here…

Government’s ‘ambitious’ apprenticeships target to be questioned

An inquiry has been launched into the Government’s target of three million apprentices by 2020 following “uncertainty” over how the system will work.

An inquiry has been launched into the “ambitious” apprenticeships target, following concerns about how the Government intends to achieve its aims.

The creation of three million apprenticeships by 2020 was one of the Conservative Party’s key pledges during the election campaign last year, however, critics have said that standards could be affected in the drive to achieve these high numbers.

Now, a sub-committee has launched an inquiry into the apprenticeship system, which will look at how the Government proposes to achieve this target and how it may affect industries with a skills shortage.

The group will also look at how standards in the apprenticeship system can be maintained and enforced and will also consider the proposals for the new apprenticeships levy first reported in the summer Budget.

Read more here..

New law will end ‘outdated snobbery’ towards apprenticeships

Schools must allow access to apprenticeship providers and colleges to create a level playing field in careers guidance.

Schools must give equal airtime to the non-academic routes pupils can take post-16, under government plans to end the ‘second class’ perception of technical and professional education (TPE).

A new law would see apprenticeship providers and staff from colleges visit schools as part of careers advice from early secondary school, to talk to pupils about the opportunities open to them through apprenticeships or other TPE routes.

The move follows concerns from ministers about careers advice, with some schools currently unwilling to recommend apprenticeships or other technical and professional routes to any but the lowest-achieving pupils – effectively creating a 2-tiered system of careers advice.

This builds on the Prime Minister’s life chances speech in which he set out his ambitions to create an education system fit for the 21st century.

Read more here…

Southampton Apprentice Graduation Awards Ceremony

CV Guide – Hope it helps!

A CV plays an important role in getting you an interview. At Youthforce we believe in the huge potential young people can bring to the workplace but frequently see CVs that block people going forwards. Our guide below brings together our experience of where it can go wrong for people. This could help you whether you’re working to create your first CV or tidying up an old one that has been filed away on your hard-drive.

First impressions count

Don’t let the small mistakes give someone the chance to overlook your application. Before you even consider what to write in you CV, think about these tiny details that are easy to change:

  • Is your email appropriate?

If your personal email is too informal, employers could look throw your application out even before opening your CV.  If your email is ‘lilybabeoxo@******.com’ or even less obvious, ‘footballstar66@*******.***’ you need to create a new email address for your applications that is more formal.

  • File name – Naming your file ‘mycv’ or ‘richs cv’ says something about you. It sounds fussy but full name & date is recommended. This makes you look professional and organised.
  • Attachment – again, very common mistake. Try your very best to save and send your CV as a Word file not as an obscure file that no-one can open. You need to create the least fuss for any recruiter. Also, NEVER just copy and paste your CV text into an email – you’d be surprised how often this happens!

Presentation and overall look

Once your CV has been opened the first thing we’re look at is the layout. Is everything lined up neatly? Is it all in the same format? Does it look smart and presentable? Is this person showing us they have a high standard of presentation?  Make sure you think about the following:


  • Use a standard type font – Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman are standard fonts to use.
  • Neat presentation – make sure everything is lined up and all text is the same size.
  • Keep it short – don’t make it longer than 2 pages. We want to see your headlines, not the full story.
  • Spelling & Grammar – make sure this is perfect. Mistakes show a lack of care and attention to detail – no excuses for this!

And now for the don’t do’s…

  • Don’t use fancy graphics – keep it simple. Text only.
  • Don’t add a photo of yourself – it’s not the place for it. Keep that for Facebook.
  • Don’t write ‘CV’ or ‘Curriculum Vitae at the top – we know what it is.
  • Don’t forget to get someone to check it over!

Structure – get it right

Get things in the right order. There are variations, however I would suggest the following format:

  1. Personal information – name, address, email, phone, mobile – don’t add date of birth, gender – this isn’t relevant and can sway people from making a fair decision about you.
  2. Personal statement – 3 or 4 sentences that introduces yourself. Make it punchy, genuine and interesting to read. Avoid using words for the sake of it likepro-active” or “hard-working” – show you’re these things by putting effort into the CV rather than just stating it.
  3. Experience – listed in reverse chronological order (most recent first) Include dates, job title and a brief explanation of your role.
  4. Education – Again, most recent first. Include predicted grades if you are awaiting results – this helps form a picture of you. Don’t list all your GCSE’s (unless this is all you have) ‘9 GCSE’s Grades A-C’ is fine.
  5. Achievements – think carefully about the positions you’re going for. What achievements are you proud of that would sell you as an asset for that company. Are you a leader? Did you captain sports teams? Have you won a prize related to creativity – writing award for example. The list is endless – tailor your achievements to the position and this is your chance to brag. Don’t hold back!
  6. Interests – this is optional, but I like to know the person behind the experience and education. Think about what interests you. Music, art, sports etc. but make it interesting. This section adds a bit of ‘flavour’ to your application. ‘Socialising’ isn’t an interest in my book. Don’t joke around here either.
  7. References –DON’T list references – you just need these words ‘References Available on Request’

Other final reminders

Your CV should be something that you’re never quite happy with. You should be looking to improve it with every version. Think of it like a software on your phone that always needs updating.


  • Always ask for feedback from employers. Ask them how your CV could be improved.
  • Be yourself – be clear about who you are. Don’t try and sell yourself as something you’re not.
  • Find someone you trust to check it over before you send it. My Dad still helps me and I’m 38!
  • Pay the same attention to online applications as you would if you were sending a CV via email. Make sure that the person who sees your application is going to be impressed.


  • Don’t lie.
  • Don’t write too much. Make things clear and concise.
  • Avoid buzz words.
  • Don’t joke – whilst you might think it a shame people can’t have a laugh, your CV isn’t the place to test people’s sense of humour.

Remember, people are looking for reasons not to put you forward. Remember these simple rules and your chances of getting to an interview will raise considerably.

Good luck and happy job hunting!

‘Government should say more about how it will promote vocational routes’

Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw told the House of Lords Social Mobility Committee today that government should do more on promoting vocational routes.

He appeared in front of the committee flanked by his chief operating officer, Matthew Coffey (pictured below right), to give evidence on the role of the education watchdog in providing skills and employment opportunities for under-served groups of young people.

“We need to say a lot more about apprenticeships … perhaps government should say a lot more about what it is going to do to promote a strong vocational offer in schools and post-16, it’s not just up to Ofsted to say we’re going to do this,” said Sir Michael.

He added the fact that only 5 per cent of young people were going into apprenticeships, and only 3 per cent from disadvantaged backgrounds, was “a nonsense” that must be addressed.

He also called on head teachers to make sure their students understood the opportunities outside the school and criticised some for encouraging learners to stay on into sixth form when other pathways might be better.

Read more here…

Providers urged to think about what technology ‘will do for learners’

The impact technology has on learners is more important to Ofsted than the technology itself, a former inspector told delegates at the Association of Employment and Learning Providers’ Learning Technologies Expo 2015.

Kerry Boffey (pictured above), director of the Adult Learning Improvement Network, said providers needed to think about what technology “will do for learners”.

“Does it speed up their learning? Does it make it more enjoyable? More interactive? More accessible? What difference does it make to their learning?” she said.

“That’s how technology is used in your self-assessment and in your inspection preparation and while you’re being inspected.”

Ofsted inspectors, she said, “don’t want to see technology — they want to see how you use technology, and the difference it makes to those learners”.

Read more here…

Apprenticeships levy plan described as a ‘massive game changer’ at AELP autumn conference

The government’s planned apprenticeship levy has been described as a “massive game changer” by chief executive of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (Niace) David Hughes.

Mr Hughes (pictured above) was glowing in his praise for the levy, which was first announced by chancellor George Osborne in July and has come in for fierce criticismfrom the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), at today’s Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) conference in Coventry.

He said that the charge on large employers would be “massive game changer” that presented a “massive opportunity” to improve vocational training as the government tries to hit its target of creating 3m apprenticeships by 2020.

“We’ve got probably £1.5m coming into the sector [through the levy],” Mr Hughes added.

“What other bit of the public sector is going to get additional funding as a result of the spending review?”

Stewart Segal, AELP chief executive, also told the conference that he was “amazed” that the government had opted for the levy.

Read more here…

Tackle ‘Mickey Mouse apprenticeships’ before they damage vocational education

The head of Ofsted has warned against apprenticeships with skills in ‘making tea and cleaning floors’ – we need to make sure standards are rigorous

The Government’s announcement in 2014 of their intention to create three million more apprenticeships by 2020, was – as expected – both welcomed and challenged across the education and business sectors.

Sceptics questioned how such ambitious plans could be implemented without forfeiting both quality within the qualifications or the budgets for the training of current employees.

So far, the number of apprenticeships has increased to 374,200 this year, a rise of 59,600 from last year: still a long way off the target. But it seems that, at the moment anyway, the figure of three million is of small concern compared with the worrying standards that are coming to light in some apprenticeships.

Read more here…