Blazing a trail – #NAW19

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

As I write this, businesses up and down the country will be preparing to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week (4-8 March) – a week for raising awareness and celebrating apprenticeships and how rewarding they can be.

For such a long time, apprenticeships carried a very unjust stigma as an easy alternative to the academic route. But apprenticeships give young people hands-on experience and the opportunity to gain qualifications whilst learning skills and gaining industry knowledge – a great combination of on- and off-site learning and experience.

Last month, the government launched their ‘Fire It Up’ campaign to promote the benefits of apprenticeships to young people, parents and employers through a series of adverts on national TV and social media, featuring real-life apprentices. I’ve seen the advert and I love the idea behind it. Thousands of businesses are already offering world-class apprenticeship programmes, but we do need more firms to come on board. The aim of this campaign is to make employers aware of the changes to apprenticeship and the benefits to their organisation. The campaigns new website will provide advice and guidance, as well as access to a wide variety of apprenticeships options for all ages and backgrounds. The real-life apprentice stars are of all ages and backgrounds. There’s Sarah, who is retraining as a nursing assistant in her 50s, and then there is 20-year-old Megan who is training to be a building design engineer at construction firm, Troup Bywaters + Anders. The case studies prove just how many doors apprenticeships can open for you, no matter who you are or where you come from.

There are still too many people who are sceptical about apprenticeships and it’s down to all of us to change their minds and make sure they know everything that we have to offer. That’s why I love campaigns and national weeks like this, where the whole industry pulls together to celebrate apprentices and shows the benefits that apprenticeships can offer both employers and young people. 96% of employers with apprentices say they have experienced at least one benefit from taking on apprentices, and most can count at least eight benefits – for me they really do sell themselves.

Next week, National Apprenticeship Week will see industry stakeholders and employers celebrate apprenticeships and their positive impact on organisations across England. This year’s theme ‘Blaze a Trail’ will feature throughout the week to highlight the benefits of apprenticeships to employers, individuals, local communities and the economy. Blazing a trail is exactly what being an apprentice is all about. Last year, was a record-breaking week, with 780 events across the country, over 33,000 people engaging with our 10,000 talks movement and #NAW2018 trending on Twitter ahead of the Oscars – let’s aim for the same, if not better, this year.

For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk.