National Apprenticeship Week – Look Beyond

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

As I write this, businesses up and down the country are taking part in National Apprenticeship Week (3-7 February) – a week for raising awareness and celebrating apprenticeships and how rewarding they can be.

The theme of this year’s National Apprenticeship week is exactly what it needs to be, ‘Look Beyond’ – celebrating the diversity and value that apprenticeships bring to employers, the apprentices themselves and communities across the country. The encouragement is to ‘Look Beyond’ traditional routes into employment, ‘Look Beyond’ traditional hiring routes and ‘Look Beyond’ preconceptions around apprenticeships.

For such a long time, apprenticeships carried a very unjust stigma as an easy alternative to the academic route. However, apprenticeships give young people hands-on experience and the opportunity to gain qualifications whilst learning skills and gaining industry knowledge. While we might not be exactly where we need to be, dare I say that I’m happy with the progress we’ve made over the years? I think we’ve finally reached a point where people understand the opportunities apprenticeships offer – they’re a great combination of on- and off-site learning and experience. I can’t speak for the whole of the UK, but in the North East I know that there’s so much support for apprenticeships, and businesses really celebrate their apprentices and everything they achieve.

The PlanBEE higher apprenticeship programme, funded by several local companies, is one of the best I’ve seen, and we’re so lucky it’s here in the North East. The industry wide partnership works together to shape the talent of the future and inspire people to consider a rewarding career in the built environment sector. Young people get on and off the job training from day one, all leading towards a professional qualification and the most important thing, a guaranteed job opportunity upon graduation. The salary has just increased this year, so there’s never been a better time to look into it.

Here at Constructing Excellence, we love nothing more than supporting and celebrating apprentices where possible. Our Generation4Change Awards have an Apprentice of the Year category and last year, the winners of our Student of the Year and Trainee of the Year awards were both apprentices.

While National Apprenticeship Week might be almost over, Hartlepool College are holding the biggest Apprenticeship event in the North East, tonight. They are the best college in the North East for overall apprenticeship achievement and have over 750 apprentices studying with them, so they really know what they’re doing. The event tonight gives you the opportunity to meet potential employers and get expert information.

Don’t forget to look up #NAW2020 to see what else has been going on, up and down the country.

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.