Every apprentice needs a workplace mentor – someone there every day who understands and supports their learning and development needs, and the concerns that go along with settling into a new role.
We spoke to Nick Nurock, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) Application Developer at Transport for London (TfL) and Firebrand Training’s 2018 Apprentice Mentor of the Year, who is a mentor for apprentices on tech-related courses. Keep reading for his top tips on how workplace mentors can help apprentices succeed for themselves and the company.
It’s important not to underestimate the time required to help even the most self-sufficient apprentices prepare for their qualification. ‘Don’t let your manager tell you it’s something you can do on the side. You need to argue for a recognised amount of your time to be spent on it to do it justice,’ Nick advises.
A member of the government’s apprenticeship delivery board says opportunities at level 2 and 3 are key.
Lower level apprenticeships have the potential to greatly boost productivity, according to the head of apprenticeships at Barclay’s.
The number of lower level apprenticeships has fallen markedly in recent years. In the four years to 2016/17, the number of intermediate apprenticeship starts (level 2) fell by 11 per cent, while advanced apprenticeship starts (level 3) fell by six per cent.
Meanwhile, the number of higher apprenticeship starts (level 4-7) increased by 269 per cent in the same period. The overall number of apprenticeship starts has fallen by four per cent – from 510,200 in 2012-13 to 491,300 in 2016-17.
Richard Hines – Principal Specialist inspector at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
A demanding job in a high-pressure environment, dealing with matters of life and death daily, you might think that I’m the product of a Russell Group university education with a list of Bachelors and Masters degrees to my name. But you’d be wrong.
Like most young people at 16, I finished school and was faced with the massive choice between staying on in education and going to university, entering the world of full-time work, or bridging the gap between the two by undertaking an apprenticeship.
I weighed up my options, mindful that whatever decision I took would determine my future career.
I looked at university pamphlets and attended open days but the courses just didn’t appeal to me.
I knew I wanted to get into electrical engineering as soon as possible, and get real life hands-on experience, when it hit me; I should do an apprenticeship. Twenty years later, I haven’t looked back since.
It is well-known that women are under-represented in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) sectors in the UK.
Only 24 percent of women work in core STEM industries and there are concerns that the skills gap is widening.
What can be done to fix these problems?
Recently, the UK government has been increasing its focus on apprenticeships. This is when a full-time job is combined with training in essential skills and recognisable qualifications. In 2017, 114,400 young people started apprenticeships in England, in sectors such as health, engineering, and business.
Getting young women into STEM apprenticeships
According to Anne Milton, the minister for skills and apprenticeships, barriers need to be broken down in order to encourage girls to pursue science-based subjects.
A new UK project aims to offer a practical demonstration of how artificial intelligence can simplify and speed up the creation of digital learning content for manufacturing and engineering apprentices.
Ufi Charitable Trust has announced the next phase of its £1m investment in projects that use digital technology to improve how vocational learning is delivered in the manufacturing sector.
It has awarded £100,000 for project led by Youthforce, a provider of STEM apprenticeship training, which aims to deliver online training to apprentices in the workplace, using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create, curate and consolidate learning content.
Ufi Charitable Trust, a grant-funding body which supports the delivery of adult vocational skills through digital technology, is excited to announce £100,000 of funding for a vocational training project led by Youthforce, provider of STEM apprenticeship training. The investment is part of Ufi’s Manufacturing Skills Fund which will invest £1m in projects that use digital technology to improve how vocational learning is delivered in the manufacturing sector.
There’s a lot of talk about apprenticeships at the moment, including the dreaded apprenticeship levy.
I can imagine some schools are furious that they are going to have to pay for something that right now has no meaning to them.
I believe in the apprentice programme. My school has a strong track record in supporting apprentices.
We currently employ 13 apprentices across the school, specialising in skills such as sports tuition, business administration, finance, nursery education and specialist education.
Apprentices spend one day a week at our local college to gain a qualification in their specialist area. After two years they can seek employment or higher education.
The Skills Funding Agency has launched a new “mystery shopper” scheme to find out how prepared providers are for the new apprenticeship reforms.
The announcement was made in the online SFA Update just uploaded onto gov.uk.
It said: “To help us understand how prepared providers are for the new apprenticeship reforms, we are carrying out a ‘mystery shopper’ exercise to test aspects of apprenticeship readiness. This will enable us to identify any further support the sector may need to be ready to meet employer demand for apprenticeships.
“Please contact your provider manager if you have any queries.”
Major apprenticeship reforms are due to come into force following next week’s launch of the new apprenticeship levy, and employers are being given far more influence over the design of apprenticeship programmes and funding for them.
The government will be keen to see how prepared providers are for the changes.
Mia Angell’s 18-year-old son is expected to do well in his A-levels and has had offers from three Russell Group universities to study computer science. However, he’s also applied for a degree apprenticeship with a government organisation, after his school brought it to parents’ attention. Angell thinks that it’s a good alternative: “It makes sense for him to get some hands-on experience, get paid while he’s doing it and also get a degree at the end of it.”
This view illustrates a growing acceptance among both parents and students that apprenticeship schemes offer a good alternative to other academic routes.
Keisha Walker, head of careers and employability at Phoenix Academy in London, says there has been a surge of interest this year, from both high achievers and less academic students, particularly in subjects such as engineering and ICT. Walker does, however, sound a note of caution: “I do say to the students: ‘Apprenticeships are so competitive that you still need to apply to a university or college as a backup.”
A third of UK businesses are confused or unaware of the financial implications of the new apprenticeship levy due to be implemented in less than two months time, according to new research.
Across the country, just one in three businesses surveyed said they were fully aware of the levy, which will require all companies with a payroll totalling £3 million or more to invest 0.5 percent into the government’s apprenticeship scheme.
Coming into effect in April, it is hoped that the new charge will help the government reach its target of three million apprentices by 2020.
But new research published today by City & Guilds reveals that only 31 percent of respondents are planning to increase their number of apprentices, with 15 percent claiming that they would be forced to cut other recruitment schemes in order to offset the costs of the levy.
Of the 500 senior business leaders surveyed, nearly a quarter, or 23 percent, were unaware of the changes to the apprenticeship system, whilst 28 percent said they did not know whether they would be required to contribute when the levy commences in April.