The Institute talks
The Institute talks…about ‘raising the standards: the apprentice guide to quality apprenticeships‘

The Institute talks…about ‘raising the standards: the apprentice guide to quality apprenticeships‘

September 13, 2021

In this episode of The Institute talks, we talk about the new guidance created by our apprentice panel, ‘raising the standards’.

In the podcast, our host Jonathan Mitchell, Deputy Director at the Institute was joined by Jamilah Simpson, former digital marketing apprentice at Google, Dillion Jones, electrician apprentice at Derry Building Service.

Launched by the Institute’s apprentice panel, the ‘raising the stands’ guidance sets out what to expect during an apprenticeship, welfare and wellbeing considerations, and recommendations for how training programmes can be tailored to give apprentices the best possible experience. 

Transcript

Jonathan Mitchell

Hello, I'm Jonathan Mitchell. I'm a deputy director at the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, and I'm your host for this podcast and today we're launching the raising the standards. Best practice guidance that's been written by The Apprentice panel for training providers and employers and also apprentices. To show them what really great looks like in apprenticeships and hopefully extend that really great practice that we've all seen in loads and loads of areas across the whole apprenticeship landscape. Today I'm joined by three members of the Institute's apprentice panel, they are Jamila Dillon and Amelia. So welcome Jamilah Dillon and Amelia. Would you like to introduce yourself?

Jamilah Simpson
Sure. Hi everyone, I'm Jamilah. I'm a former Google Digital marketing apprentice. I'm now the programs associate at Multiverse, where we're building an outstanding alternative to university and corporate training through apprenticeships. My role aims to provide apprentices with opportunities that lie outside their apprenticeship qualification, and day-to-day roles for personal and professional development. I will soon be moving into the creative industry to become a graphic design freelancer. I've always wanted to pursue a career in the creative world. So I thought now was the time to make that change and try something new.

Jonathan Mitchell
That sounds amazing Jamila thanks so much. And Dillon over to you. Tell us a bit about yourself and what apprenticeship you're doing, what you're doing at work at the moment.

Dillon Jones
Hi everyone, I'm Dillon. I completed a four-year Level 3 apprenticeship to become an electrician. Once I completed it, I got offered a position in the office to become an electrical design engineer. Where I have just recently completed my Level 4. I'm potentially moving on to my Level 5 soon.

 

Jonathan Mitchell
Thanks Dillon and also Amelia, you've also joined us today. Would you like to introduce yourself and tell us a bit about yourself?

Amelia Russell
Yeah, sure, so my name is Amelia Russell and I'm a governance and external affairs officer at the Institute and also lead on the apprentice panel and also have recently completed a Level 3 business administration apprenticeship.

Jonathan Mitchell
Terrific thanks so much and welcome to all of all of you. So I've got a lot of questions which we'll try and share to help demystify the raising the standards guidance that you guys have been working on. Dillon, I'll turn to you first what? What's the apprentice panel responsible for?

Dillon Jones
To me, the apprentice panel is responsible for challenging in reviewing the boards decisions. They make some key decisions for apprentices or whole throughout every industry and two times a year we have to update the board on what we do. Another thing that we do is we voice the opinion of current and previous apprentices. This is what we were trying to achieve with our survey in 2020.

Jonathan Mitchell
Fantastic. So, moving on, Jamilah can you tell us a bit what were the key findings that you that you found from the apprentice panel 2020 survey?

Jamilah Simpson
And so we received over 1000 responses to our 2020 apprentice panel survey, and there were four key main findings that we got from it. The first was that 85% of respondents had signed a commitment statement. The commitment statement is a contract which is signed by the Employer, Apprentice and training provider before the apprenticeship begins. The second key finding was at 62% of respondents reported receiving at least 20% off the job training. The third was 70% of respondents were satisfied that they're off the job training was useful in their job, and the fourth was 87% of respondents would recommend their apprenticeship.

Jonathan Mitchell
Thanks Jamilah and I know that the panel work really hard to think about what those findings and the many other findings of fact they came out of the apprentice panel survey what they might mean and what recommendations might be made. Amelia, do you think you could tell us a little bit about the recommendations that were made from the apprentice panel survey? What kind of things did the apprentice panel decide to recommend that they were hoping that that the Institute and other parts of government might take forwards?

Amelia Russell
Yeah, sure, so we as a panel we came up with six recommendations and the first one being adequate preparation for endpoint assessment. The second one being more steps to ensure their premises receive their entitled 20% off the job training during their apprenticeship, and the third one was defining best practice in delivering apprenticeship training. The 4th one was minimum standards of pastoral cares for apprentices by employers and training providers. The fifth one being more steps in taking to market an apprenticeship and promote the value of apprentices, to employers and apprentices. The 6th one being to create a strength and commitment statement, so that places more emphasis on the quality of apprenticeship delivery.

 

Jonathan Mitchell
Great, and it's really clear to see how the creation of the raising the standards guidance is. It's, you know, supports lots of the things that that, that that the panel were recommending there and  probably worth also saying, you know that we're hoping to follow up that survey again at some point, and they'll be more opportunities for those listening to chip in and share their thoughts as the system continues to evolve. So that's really terrific, and I certainly do know that those recommendations that the panel made were really seriously considered. By colleagues at the Institute and at the Education Skills and Funding Agency, and they've been really influential in bringing about some really positive changes I think. So here we are today. Following on from that survey and  the panels work, we're here to talk about the raising the standards guidance that the panel has produced. Dillion, I'm wondering if you could tell me a little bit more about the raising the standards guidance. How did the idea come about? And who is this guidance for?

Dillon Jones
So the raising the standards guidance actually came back from one of our panel members. It was Louis and it brought it up in one of our sessions. Over the period of a few months, we broke out into different teams and I personally had the introduction inside of it. It’s mainly not only for the apprentices, it's also for the training providers and the employers. So, we're looking at the three-way partnership and how that all links together. Hopefully, like the name says, we're going to raise the standards of apprenticeships because from some of their respondents that we've got some, some apprentices weren't very happy with their three way partnership.

Jonathan Mitchell

That's right, deal and I think one of the things that the survey said, you know quite clearly, was that some apprentices, and by no means all. I think they were really good examples of great practice being done, but some apprentices felt like pulling together the employer, the training provider and The Apprentice themselves. You know, with something that's a bit elusive in some cases, and clearly one of the things that their guidance aims to do is to help employers and training providers and apprentice know how well to work together. I think, Jamilah does that sound about right to you?

Jamilah Simpson
Yeah, definitely the main 5 areas of the guide and Dillon already covered a few of them. But we basically created the guide to cover induction process. The partnership between the apprentice, training provider, employer, apprenticeship training, end-point assessment preparation, apprentice welfare and wellbeing. We hope that the guide will benefit the apprentices, employers and the training providers in the sense to improve apprentice experience and give guidance to those within the apprenticeship landscape. But also we hope that it will be accessible to everyone who wants and needs it, and so we want it to reach the widest possible audience across UK. And hopefully maybe even beyond that. So over the next few months we are working to raise awareness of the guide and support stakeholders to understand how they can support apprenticeships that they're delivering.

Jonathan Mitchell
That's terrific, thanks Jamilah and Amelia what about you? How do you think this bit of work is going to benefit apprentices, employers and training providers?

Amelia Russell

I think it's going to be an excellent reference point and resource for employees and training providers, as well as providing a useful document and template for apprentices, trend providers and employers. So, it's great that it's going to cover all three parties involved, so the three/four by partnership that we're really keen to ensure raise the standards for apprenticeships.

Jonathan Mitchell
And you've worked with a lot of organizations and individuals to come to create the guidance that exists. Jamilah, I think you were looking after the bit of the guidance that was that was about welfare and wellbeing. Is that right? I know work with a whole load of organizations and reach out to individuals and you read a lot. I know during the course of that bit of work, tell us a bit about who you were working with and what kind of what kind of organizations did you ended up speaking to?

Jamilah Simpson
So the whole project was a collective effort from the apprentice panel and external organizations. I work specifically on, as you mentioned, leading the wellbeing and welfare section alongside Jacqueline, John, and Abby. Who are all members of the apprentice panel as well. We reached out to different stakeholders within the apprenticeship landscape to gather real life examples of good practice for apprentice wellbeing and welfare. This included my own organization, multiverse as we have a lot of wellbeing practices in place. So, we put some examples of that into the guide. We also spoke to other training providers such as Apprentify and we gathered insights from as many apprentices as we could by creating another smaller scale survey asking questions specifically about the wellbeing support they had access to in their apprenticeship.

Jonathan Mitchell
Now it's terrific, and I think it's been a real strength of this piece of work that so many people have been involved. I mean, it's certainly you know, in in kind of supporting the work you've been doing. I've been so impressed by how many organisations, providers, employers and other organizations of one kind or another have been so keen to support the work that you've all been doing. I think that's a real strength of the guidance that it draws on all that expertise that exists across the piece. Dillon tell us a little bit about your you. You've been working as you were saying on the induction of the apprenticeship part and alongside the other four units of the of the guidance. It must have taken a long time. How long have you been working on it? What sorts of things have you been up to?

Dillon Jones
Yeah, so the introduction part we've been working on it for close to a year now, I think. We also worked with a couple of the panel members on each section who it was quite challenging to get everyone in the room at the same time, but thankfully we've got Microsoft Teams now, so it wasn't as hard as it should have been. I've been working on it close to a year and hopefully we can keep working on it and keep adapting it as things change.

Jonathan Mitchell
I think that's it. I think that's exactly right. Dillon, one of the one of the key things I think is not see this is the kind of final finished product, but rather something we'll want to evolve and make better as we find out more about really good examples of where apprenticeships are being run in the most brilliant ways. But what you've got us to is a really great starting point and guidance, that I'm sure will be useful to employers, training providers and to apprentices themselves. Amelia, what do you think the biggest challenge has been at this project so far?

Amelia Russell
I think the biggest challenge is making sure it's at its highest quality, because we have had to have a couple of pushbacks on dates, times and it was going to be released in March and then we thought March is a bit too soon and we've got a hell of a lot more work to go through. And then we went through to the July process and try to ensure that we'll release it by July. But then we thought, actually, there's quite a lot going on in August, and we also want to make sure that it has its shine. It's limelight, that it truly deserves. So that's why we pushed it back to September, just to really ensure that it's at its highest quality. We're able to really show it off. Also it's where a lot of start dates do happen in apprenticeship, so we can really be there for people from start to finish.

Jonathan Mitchell
Yes I totally recognise that Amelia, I think one of the difficulties about this has obviously been that all the members of the apprentice panel are themselves as apprentices. They’re working alongside their apprenticeships and doing all of this on top of all of that, but it's been absolutely amazing to see the ways in which their dedication and efforts have really paid off. And, you know, like when I look at it, you know, I just think it's a really great and really helpful document. But obviously it all takes time and everyone got a lot of other claims on their time as well. Totally recognizing that. Do Jamilah and Dillion, do you recognise that? Is that what you found the hardest? Or were there other things that were challenging here?

Jamilah Simpson
Yeah, definitely for me it was juggling my day to day role and the work for the guide. I'm normally very good at managing my time. I'm prioritizing what needs to be done first, but when I had two, three or four things going on at the same time, it was really easy for me to get confused. But there were solutions that I've come across which help me plan out my week and allocate time for when I'd sit down and focus on the work for the guide. I was also working on the wellbeing and welfare area, it meant I had to reflect on the support that I received when I was an apprentice. I was very fortunate to have support from all different directions around me, including from my line manager, apprenticeship coach and my team, but I'd struggled quite a bit during the second half of my apprenticeship in terms of wellbeing, so having to think back to those times kind of brought up emotions and feelings that had gone through a couple of years ago. But when I sat back and looked at the bigger picture of what the whole guide was for it made it seem worthwhile, because I know that in the long run it'll help so many apprentices going forwards.

Jonathan Mitchell
Thanks Jamilah. I think that again, that really resonates with me. I bet you did find yourself reflecting on certain points, what I'm sure was a tough experience at certain points, but really helpful to remind ourselves that you know that all of this is about helping apprentices to balance the various, competing demands on themselves. And Dillon, how about for you what did you find those challenges to be?

Dillon Jones
I think the biggest challenge for us as a group was the number of responses that we got. It was quite difficult to get it up. I mean, we did really well to achieve over 1000 responses in the time frame that we had. However, with the updated survey next year, hopefully we're going to smash this out the park and dare I say we get a lot more. Also, I was leading the introduction part of the apprenticeship and my introduction was really good through my company. I know Joel, one of the panel members, he works for Google and their introduction was unreal. They went camping and spent a week doing activities, but then on the flip side of this we've got some responses where they've not even had an introduction. So it was quite challenging to hear that, and I think this is one thing that's coming from the survey and the guidance is hopefully we are going to raise the standards of the introduction and all parts of it. Ensuring that everyone has the same experience.

Jonathan Mitchell
Exactly, it's really important to the panel. That's what I hear over and over again that apprenticeships get off to a really great start and that that that is that is such an important thing and what it would have been a real joy. I think as this work has progressed, has been hearing about all the great experiences that members of the panel have had so that we can really socialize those examples of great practice. Hopefully inspire all employers and training providers and apprentices themselves, of course and to do likewise so that that's really wonderful. I also really like, Dillon, your ambition for smashing it out of the park on the next survey and anyone listening to this podcast, you know you are encouraged to reply to that survey and let us have your thoughts. We really want to hear them. I suppose, Amelia, what's next for The Apprentice panel? They have been really busy lately, I know doing all sorts of things and advising the Education and Skills Funding Agency and the Institute and all sorts of initiatives and things like that are being worked up at the moment. We've got the survey coming up as well. But what else is the apprentice panel keen to be working on?

Amelia Russell
Yes, sure. So, we've got the apprentice panel members have lots to look forward to over the coming year and one being diversity inclusion, trying to ensure that we're raising the profile for diversity and inclusion within apprenticeships. We're also going to be looking at recruitment for the apprentice panel, so we really are keen to ensure that all roots have an apprentice to represent it, so that they can have a voice of all different routes across the apprenticeship landscape. We’re going to be ensuring that we're going to raise their profile of the panel, externally and internally, so part of the work that we want to do with the panel is to raise their profile, and have a lot of internal and external awareness days and weeks across the press and social media. Also we haven't actually all met in person since the pandemic started, so we're hoping in October that we can all look each other in the eye and actually meet in person. That's going to be really exciting and I'm so excited to meet all of the apprentice panel members because like I said, I haven't met any of them yet.


Jonathan Mitchell

That's great Amelia. And it's exactly that, isn't it? We want the voice for apprentices to be heard really clearly here at the Institute, by our colleagues elsewhere and Department for Education, in the Education and Skills Funding Agency, and the panel having great members; a really kind of visible profile is a great way of ensuring that apprentices voice is really heard and attended to and in the work that we're all doing. Because in the end, you know we've all got the same shared interest in making sure that our apprenticeships are as great as possible. So we wish you loads of luck with that work as you as you take it forward over the coming year. And Jamilah, what would you like to see the panel working on next? Do you have any particular kind of priorities for yourself that you hope the panel might be able to get stuck into?

Jamilah Simpson
I think the work around diversity and inclusion is really exciting. There's a lot to do in terms of increasing that across the apprenticeship landscape. Me personally, as I'm going to be moving away from the apprenticeship industry for a bit and going into creative freelancing. Unfortunately I’ll be stepping down from the panel and as much as I love being part of something like this and being able to represent the apprentice voice in such an important landscape, I want to give other apprentices the opportunity to advocate for themselves and step up to a role like this. I've been working alongside the panel members for the past year and a bit and I haven't even met any of them in person yet, but I know I'll keep in touch with some and hopefully further down the line will have the chance to meet in real life.

Jonathan Mitchell
It’s really important that Jamilah has made that point because we are gutted that she will be moving on to bigger and better things of course and equally delighted simultaneously. Nevertheless, you know, the panel is constantly evolving. People obviously move on. They go on to other things. And apprentices out there who are listening to this, who think they might like to be a part of the panel. We're always looking for new, enthusiastic apprentices who want to bring their own priorities, their own enthusiasms, and supporting the work of the panel. Ensuring that we at the Institute and in partnership with our colleagues at the Educational and Skills Funding Agency are really well informed about the apprentice perspective. So, if you think you might want to those people and you'd like to be working with us on all this work, hopefully, Dillion and Amelia and Jamilah, have given you a good flavour of the kind of things that you can be doing and how we will support you to realize those ambitions that you have. So don't hesitate to get in contact with the Institute, if you think you're out there and you'd like to be a member of the apprentice in the future. After all, in the end we are going to have to replace Jamilah however difficult that will be. We'll always be looking for great people, so that brings us almost the end everybody. But I thought I might just close by asking each of you to share with us, it can be from what's in the guidance or from just your own thoughts, one tip that people could take away from training providers, employers or be it apprentices themselves, that would really improve their apprenticeship experience? So, Amelia I'm going to come to you first. What's that one tip that you think people could take away, that would really improve their experience in their apprenticeships?

Amelia Russell
I think the best tip is communication, so having excellent communication in the introduction to your apprenticeship and maintaining the 3/4 way partnership during the apprenticeship. Communication in your training and especially in your preparation for the EPA and wellbeing and welfare that is so important that all three parties talked to each other, they're all kept in the loop. They all know what they're up to and how best the apprentice is getting on, so that's what my tip is, for having an excellent apprenticeship, is ensuring communication is at its highest.

Jonathan Mitchell
And Dillon how about you? What's your one key tip that you reckon you could share with others.

Dillon Jones
Yeah, so it's similar to Amelia, mind links in. My serious answer would be to listen, it helps so much if you just listen. It makes everyone's life easier. I'm not so serious answer is just enjoy it. It'll fly by too quick.

Jonathan Mitchell
I think that is absolutely right. Yes do enjoy it. I mean, goodness me that you know if it's anything it should be as enjoyable as it is practical. I think that's right. Jamilah, what about you? What's your what's your key takeaway?

Jamilah Simpson
I say take every opportunity that you can, bearing in mind your physical and mental capacity. Being an apprentice means that you're there to learn and people know that. So, use your opportunity to ask questions, asked to be involved in as many projects as you can. Ask someone outside of your team for 30 minutes of their time to speak to them about their role and their career journey. As much as you can, soak up information, kind of like a sponge and save every moment, because as Dillion said, it can go by very quick and be over before you know it.

Jonathan Mitchell
Fantastic, well look. This has been really interesting, and I want to take a moment to just thank all three of you and indeed the rest of the apprentice panel for the amazing work done to create this guidance. It’s so valuable, I think for employers, training providers and other apprentices to have access to really thought through and really positive bit of guidance. That shows what great looks like in apprenticeships, and we'd really encourage everybody out there to have a good look at this guidance, to read through it carefully, to think about how that can be reflected in the experiences that you're putting in place for your own apprentices if you're an employer or provider. Or for yourselves if you if you are or would be a current apprentice. The panel has done a great job. It's really interesting and really positive and really constructive work. In the end, sadly, that's all we've got time for, for today's podcasts. But a huge thanks, particularly to Dillon, Jamilah, and Amelia for taking the time to join me today. Many thanks for listening to all of you out there as well, and look out for the next episode. Meanwhile, take care of yourselves and goodbye!

The Institute talks…about green apprenticeships

The Institute talks…about green apprenticeships

June 5, 2021

In this episode of The Institute talks, we talk about green apprenticeships. We are joined by Judy Ling Wong and Lee Stanford.

Judy Ling Wong is an artist, painter and environmentalist best known as the honorary president of Black Environment Network, who is proud to chair the panel.

Lee Sanford is the engineering training manager for National Express West Midlands looking at what can be done in terms of adding green apprenticeships and different technologies into the fleet.

Transcript

Helen Dalton

Hello, I’m Helen Dalton a relationship manager at the Institute and I also work on the green apprenticeships project, I’m your host for this podcast today. For this special green apprenticeships podcast I’m joined by Judy Ling Wong and Lee Sanford welcome both would you like to introduce yourselves, Judy?

Judy Ling Wong

I’m Judy Ling Wong I’m an artist, painter and environmentalist best known as the honorary president of Black Environment Network, I’m very proud to chair this panel.

Helen Dalton

and Lee.

Lee Sanford

Yeah, my name's Lee Sanford I’m the engineering training manager for National Express West Midlands looking at what we can do in terms of adding green apprenticeships and different technologies into our people and fleet.

Helen Dalton

 Thanks so much. I’m so glad you could both join me today. Let's get started, so Judy can you tell me more about the green apprenticeships advisory panel why is it set up and what does it do?

Judy Ling Wong

The context for the green apprenticeship advisory panel is that the government is planning to create two million good quality green jobs by 2030 and apprenticeships and wide and technical education can really lead the way in terms of training. So the government published a 10 point plan in November for green industrial revolution backed by 12 billion pounds of investing and we will plan to help implement this. The green apprenticeship advisory panel will ensure that apprenticeships play a central role in the national green led recovery and will be well placed to help the uk meet its net zero carbon emissions target. So we will advise when existing apprenticeships could be made greener and also identify gaps that could be filled by new green apprenticeships. The panel will also feed into the new green jobs task force and help to create the plan in general for the necessary green jobs and skills working through each sector in turn over the coming months.

Helen Dalton

Thanks Judy so speaking personally what made you want to join and be chair of the green apprenticeships advisory panel?

Judy Ling Wong

Well, you know the big thing that really attracts me about environmental participation is the joining up of people and nature and what more can you do than to give people green jobs to join up people in nature. If people really want to contribute to a green revolution having a green job is devoting your entire working hours to a green future and people should be very proud of this. We want to encourage people to think about dream jobs, we want to particularly encourage young people to learn about the range of new jobs which is not easy, some of these jobs are very complicated to understand. So, in the coming months we're very much hoping that colleges will help us local, community groups and businesses will help us, plus going to schools to talk about this and introduce the various facets of jobs in the sector that people can actually begin to imagine themselves in.

Helen Dalton

Thanks Judy. So, Lee you're a member of the green apprenticeship community so what do you do and how does that role link in with what the panel does?

Lee Sanford

I’m a fairly new member to the team being perfectly honest, however I can massively see the importance of what the advisory panel is trying to achieve and being a member will allow me to add in a different perspective when looking at other types of green technologies within apprenticeships; and where others may be able to benefit from my experiences and more so I can benefit from their knowledge and their specialist sectors. I believe the community will be able to identify and put forward some really credible and realistic options for adding green and sustainable technologies into a substantial portion of apprenticeship standards.

Helen Dalton

Thanks lee and what made you want to join the community?

Lee Sanford

My entry into the community really came off the back of a conversation with the Institute for Apprenticeships around the national express 2030 zero emissions strategy, and how I can gain exposure for the unique challenge that I have around creating a Zero emissions apprenticeship pathway, which is within the Bus and Coach Engineering Technician standard. And I’m passionate about being able to provide career pathways for anyone who wants to take up an apprenticeship, and especially with zero emissions being at the heart of our National Express journey. I think there's no better place to learn and share ideas than being part of a dedicated group of industry experts who have the same passion but in their own fields.

Helen Dalton

Thanks lee and just a question to you both really you know, why do you think that green apprenticeships are so important?

Judy Ling Wong

The green apprenticeships are so important because it provides through an apprenticeship really high-quality training and these apprenticeships are shaped by employers who know the industry needs, but we also need other dimensions to come in they connect with the community's contribution, so this is actually a huge area of development at the moment. As I said creating 2 million green jobs is a huge thing for our nation. So, we want people to increasingly join in with this conversation to map out the whole framework which we need to make this a reality. Green apprenticeships are at the centre because without the quality and the roots to these jobs, these jobs will not be a reality. But at the same time the framework for access to these jobs and getting people to aspire to them to know that the new green jobs are coming and wanting them is very much part of the developing picture.

Lee Sanford

 I think for me um introducing green and sustainable technologies into as many apprenticeships as possible will help create new ways of thinking and solving current issues but in non-harmful ways to the planet. The more we teach people now about how new technologies can potentially help to slow down the effects of climate change bringing in new sustainable and cleaner ways of conducting our businesses will help everyone, and we have to be able to move forward and evolve our current practices towards renewable and green technologies for ourselves and more importantly the future generations who will be learning those skills from us. National Express are also making the west midlands pioneer region for training up apprentices in new vehicle technologies. This training will inevitably work its way across into other sectors such as HGV, light vehicle fleets, fire engines for example and we've been very open with other businesses in that area about our electric vehicles and hydrogen and we recognize that we have a responsibility as a business to share our experiences and knowledge in that area.

Helen Dalton

Thanks Lee you referenced before that National Express have got a green strategy, can you tell me a bit more about that?

 Lee Stanford

I’m proud to say that in the UK national express are leading the way to both reduce and then eliminate exhaust emissions on the roads of Birmingham with the name of creating a cleaner greener fleet of vehicles. The first stage of this was to bring all of the current fleet in line with the highest euro emissions rating and these outputs the lowest amount of particulates and emissions from any diesel engine. This also brings the fleet in line with the Birmingham clean air zone that's due to begin on the June the first, allowing our vehicles to provide the cleanest levels of diesel emissions on the road today.

The second stage of this plan is to start to remove those diesel-powered vehicles and replace them with vehicles that have zero emissions. We've already introduced 29 fully electric vehicles into the fleet operating around south Birmingham the Coventry area, and with Coventry winning the bid to become an all-electric bus city by the winter of 2025 this will see hundreds more electric buses being introduced into that area specifically. Express also has a 2030 strategy for the entire UK National Express bus fleet that's to be powered by zero emissions technologies. This will include not only a further rollout of fully electric vehicles as I’ve already mentioned, but it will also but it will also include cutting-edge technologies such as hydrogen fuel cell powered buses. We're going to be operating 20 hydrogen powered double deck buses on behalf of Birmingham city council across the greater Birmingham area when they arrive later this year. The strategy to become fully zero emissions by 2030 I believe is a huge step forward in clean bus travel, and it's very exciting for us to be involved in. Being in both engineering and training it's my responsibility to ensure that our training for both current and new staff is of the highest quality and relevant to what is required now and in the future. Working alongside our engineering training academy partnership with southern city college we are already introducing electric vehicle qualifications as an add-on to the apprenticeship routes this will help ensure that future technicians are ready for that change to come within bus technology. My overall goal would be able to create a zero emissions pathway within the bus and coach apprenticeship so that we can start to focus our efforts on teaching our future technicians all about this new and exciting way of providing the power within our Birmingham bus network. It also has to be noted that this isn't just for new apprentices I’m working alongside our other significant training partners such as gtg west midlands we are also bringing the electric vehicle qualifications to our current engineers so they're able to work on the new vehicle technology as it becomes embedded within our fleet.

Helen Dalton

Thankfully I think that's a really interesting point about the fact that it's not just about young people, it is about upskilling the existing workforce as well. Judy how do you see apprenticeships working in the future and especially green apprenticeships?

Judy Ling Wong

I think it's important to realize that apprenticeships will raise the standard of training in this country. We aspire to making apprenticeships the gold standard of training and this makes a real difference, because quality delivers what we want as an outcome and net zero is very much part of it. Besides looking at green jobs which of course is a huge chunk of work at this very moment to deliver net zero. We also realize that all jobs in all of society has a role to play in getting us to be greener, so the institute for apprenticeships and technical education is not just concentrating on developing this area of new green jobs. It's also developed as sustainability framework which is a reference article for people who are having jobs of any kind to refer to, to find out what are the sustainability elements of all jobs. For example, a job like in the industry of hair and beauty, the chemicals that I use, how you dispose of them, how you protect yourself and the environment are all part of this framework. So, we look forward to a greater influence across all kinds of jobs quite beyond just the obviously new jobs. Of course, website of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education is open to everyone, it's not just people working with apprenticeships that can benefit from this, anyone can look up their sustainability framework. So, we hope that more people will talk about this and access the opportunities for all of us to seriously contribute.

Helen Dalton

Thanks Judy. I think again that's a really interesting point you know, getting that conversation going around what everybody can do to contribute to combating climate change, and so what do you think employers can do to help combat climate change or embed sustainability in their business? If you're going to give them a bit of advice about where to start? That's a question to both of you, where do you think they should begin?

 Judy Ling Wong

They can begin anywhere because there are sustainability elements in anything, for example, they can look at their workplace, they look at the insulation of their building, the energy efficiency of their building, as well as what they do with their workforces, they can look at how they package their food in that canteen, whether it's sustainable they can ask employees to look at how they travel, how they think about their own energy use. So, both on the home fronts and the work fronts when we start this conversation, we find that the job about attaining net zero is everywhere, and I think that starting this conversation is an exciting move and the focus for our time.

Lee Sanford

I think with a focus on transport, it would be good to see other large bus and coach operators follow the lead of National Express and commit to becoming a zero-emission operator within a realistic time scale for them. Within National Express we look at a variety of things in order to help reduce our impact on climate change. One example of this is that we put all our drivers through a defensive and fuel-efficient driving course, this helps to reduce collisions, it helps reduce wear and tear on vehicles and it helps to reduce our fuel usage. Other examples are simple things such as office recycling and automatic lighting to help cut our energy usage it is vital that all businesses look at what they can be doing to integrate green and sustainable options. As such we have just appointed an environmental strategy manager to make sure that we're doing as much as we possibly can within our business.

Helen Dalton

Thanks lee that's really interesting from both of you, as you say you have to start somewhere, don't you? I think sometimes people find it very intimidating thing to think about moving in this direction, so how would you advise people and businesses to stay on the journey they've started? Judy over to you.

Judy Ling Wong

Well for business and for everyone else it is the same issue, isn't it? It is overwhelming especially as climate change is frightening you know with what we are being faced with. So it is a great thing when we seek to find out what we can do but we need support we don't want to be isolated we are human beings we like to be in a group. So if we stimulate ourselves to do things and come together with friends as a group we compare notes, we can actually be network perhaps of a local group that is doing this, or we can actually talk to businesses to come and help us see what we're doing. So, when we're doing things with each other it's less overwhelming we take one step at a time, but we recognize that we're doing something, and when we when we succeed in making a difference we celebrate; that is so important. So, for businesses is the same they have staff networks, and they can stimulate others by example of what they do as well.

Helen Dalton

Thanks Judy. Lee what's happening at national express?

Lee Sanford

I think within our business and our area I mean it's all about finding your own way. At the moment this is such a such a new topic within transport. It's what can you do? How can we do it? Who do we need to collaborate with in order to find that information? And things that we do, certainly in industry, you know National Express work quite closely and hand-in-hand with vehicle manufacturers and the likes of Alexander Dennis and Wright's bus and that's in order to create new developments. To look at what we need as a customer to look at what our customers expect and what they need from a product, and at the moment we're doing that within electric vehicles and hydrogen really quite closely to try and look at how we reduce emissions and reduce our carbon footprint.

I think from Judy’s point about recognition is also a big one, you know awards and recognition within industry are a really big thing and I don't think there's enough currently at the moment that's being done to celebrate all the good work so promotion, advertising, awards I think all of those will help to bring people on board and create a bit more of a buzz and just get that that buy-in to the achievements that are already going on within this sector.

Helen Dalton

Thanks Lee that's really interesting. So, on a personal level what's your one tip for people if they wanted to go out and start being greener right now?

Judy Ling Wong

My one tip is to get informed, because it's not so straightforward sometimes I think that listening to lee is a great thing I talk generally about approaching net zero and so on, but he made it come to life you can see how much detail there can be when you really look into the situation and it's true not just for businesses, it's for everyone. We can look at detail in our own lives in a way that we come up with an entire list and if we want a happy green future for all of us, we must be motivated to look into the details and get ourselves informed.

Lee Sanford

I think I echo Judy’s comments there in terms about being informed. I mean my advice would be don't be scared to speak up about having a green agenda conduct some research and talk to others within your sector potentially initially who may be having the same challenges and see how they've approached it. Ultimately there is no one-size-fits-all solution to green technologies and so my advice again would be conduct research ask questions, as there will be somebody who'll be able to point you in the right direction. Ultimately doing something is better than doing nothing at all, so don't be afraid to take that first step on a green journey.

Helen Dalton

So, any final thoughts, Judy what are you most looking forward to in this green space?

Judy Ling Wong

The picture we have given, see that there are many dimensions we worked at that can be kicked off by this whole notion of new green jobs and around apprenticeships there's so much to be done. Lee has been talking about what business can do when they think hard and recognize what they're already doing and push it out into the world through awards and so on. So, I think that green issues will become more and more important across apprenticeships and the wider world of work, and I really look forward to all of us contributing to a greener future.

Helen Dalton

Thank you and lee as an employer representative?

Lee Sanford

For me I’m really really excited about bringing in all these new technologies and greener sustainable futures to the careers, now of apprentices that are coming through you know these are our future. If we teach them correctly now I think the future is going to be in a good place

Helen Dalton

Thank you so much both of you been really inspirational, especially those final comments where you're telling people it really is within everybody's power to do something.

That's all we have time for today in today's episode I want to say a huge thank you again to our guests for taking the time to talk to us, thanks for listening and look out for the next episode bye.

The Institute talks…about the EQA transition

The Institute talks…about the EQA transition

April 28, 2021

This podcast was recorded for end-point assessment organisations (EPAOs) who must apply for Ofqual recognition by 1 July in support of external quality assurance (EQA) reforms.

Charlotte Bosworth, managing director of Innovate Awarding and chair of the Federation of Awarding Bodies’ (FAB) End Point Assessment Organisation Group, Jessica Lewis-Bell, senior strategic relationships manager at Ofqual, and our own chief operating officer Rob Nitsch answer questions and provide guidance and insights.

EQA monitors the end-point assessment that apprentices take at the end of their apprenticeship, to ensure that it is fair, consistent and robust across different apprenticeship standards and between different assessment organisations.

Transcript

Paul Offord

Hello I’m Paul Offord I work in communications at the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education and I’m your host for this podcast. Today we are going to be talking about external quality assurance transition with Charlotte Bosworth, Jessica Lewis-Bell and our own Rob Nitsch. Welcome all, would you like to introduce yourself?

Charlotte Bosworth

Hi I’m Charlotte Bosworth, the managing director of Innovate Awarding and the chair of the end-point assessment organisations group for the Federation of Awarding Bodies.

Jessica Lewis-Bell

Hi I’m Jessica Lewis-Bell, I’m a senior manager in strategic relationships at Ofqual.

Rob Nitsch

And hello everybody I’m Rob Nitsch I’m the chief operating officer at the Institute and within that I have accountability for both external quality assurance and end-point assessment.

Paul Offord

Great stuff I’m glad you can all join me. Right let's get started, jess can you briefly explain what external quality assurance is?

Jessica Lewis-Bell

yeah of course so external quality assurance or EQA as it's widely known. Monitors the end-point assessment that apprentices take at the end of their apprenticeship to ensure that it's fair consistent and robust across different apprenticeship standards and between different assessment organisations. So Ofqual’s role is as an EQA provider we regulate end-point assessment organisations to ensure that they work to a high standard and we also ensure that the end-point assessment is fit for purpose.

Paul Offord

Okay and rob what do we mean when we talking about the transition process?

Rob Nitsch

Yes thank you Paul. The institute announced plans to move to a new simplified system for eqa of apprenticeship endpoint assessment back in last august. these changes will see eqa delivered now by ofqual or the office for students for integrated degree apprenticeships. and that means that the institute will stop directly delivering eqa but will continue to oversee the system in line with our statutory responsibility and we've put in place a framework to do that. it also means that though those other organizations that deliver eqa will also be handing over responsibility to ofqual and the office to students and what this means in the first batch so that transition um of those for whom the institute provides a service for open awards is that there'll be a transition of over 260 apprenticeships over to ofqual and all related endpoint assessment organizations on the register will need to secure recognition from ofqual as part of that process.

Paul Offord

 i see and when do endpoint assessment organizations who currently have their eqa delivered by the institute need to apply for recognition by?

Rob Nitsch

well first of all i'd like to say that the institute ofqual and of course the agency understand the extraordinary challenges that covid-19 have brought to the sector and the impact of the lockdown and how that has affected end-point assessment organizations. but of course there's been a huge amount of pressure and uh you know we think that it's particularly important to listen, to show flexibility, to respond uh where we can. and we've listened to concerns about the previously uh announced timings around the eqa transition process or sensor timings around the processor and we've decided to address this by extending the timeline. um so end point assessment organizations involved in this first phase so those people whose eqa is delivered by the institute which is in turn we contract open awards to do that, those organizations will now have until the first of july to make formal applications for the recognition from Ofqual and then they will then have until the 16th of December to complete the recognition process.  And just a couple of notes to that if i could the first is that we really strongly recommend that all those that attend to imply begin the process as soon as possible so they're going to wait until the first of july we and ofual would like organizations to start applying straight away and and some are also um we're gonna transition transition standards as as soon as we're able to and at that point eqa billing will cease for that apprenticeship so we will cease billing from the date of transfer and the final point i'd make paul is throughout this process uh together with Ofual uh the agency we're absolutely committed to ensuring that quality is maintained and also very conscious of ensuring that apprentices are not prevented from sitting assessments during this transition process.

Paul Offord

great stuff and just to clarify when we're talking about standards we're talking about modern we're talking about apprenticeship standards the employer-led apprenticeship standards that have that have come in um in place of the old apprenticeship frameworks

Rob Nitsch

absolutely correct paul and um as as hopefully everybody's aware uh starts are now not permitted on to frameworks and those that are currently on their frameworks are um are running out and they're separate arrangements for those

 Paul Offord

okay and then i think this is one for ofqual to answer. what what will end-point assessment organisations need to do between the first july and the 16th of december so up to that second deadline that we mentioned

Jessica Lewis-Bell

yeah thanks paul so really this period is about as supporting epa's with their application. um so if an organization is successful first time um then we will recognize them and let them know when their standards will transfer to us and those standards will transfer on a monthly basis. um sometimes organizations don't get through our recognition process first time um i would say please don't take that personally it can be a challenging task but we're here to support you through that and the reason one of the reasons that we've extended the deadline is so that we can put more of that support in place so by enabling um a deadline of the first of july it gives us time for resubmissions up until the 16th of december. um so we've got a lot of support available and um there's someone from ofqual that can uh can talk you through that when you meet with one of us and as rob said we've had a lot of applications in already which is really good news and i think the the last point really that i'd make is that as rob said sort of the existing eqa provision continues up until that point of transfer over to us so really that that time period from july to december is about the support and engagement that you can access from ofqual

Paul Offord

 okay yeah i suppose it's important to to get the message across that we shouldn't view Ofqual and the recognition process as a as a kind of a scary thing it’s a positive that that it's you are rigorous with your recognition process um but you want to help as many epaos as many people as possible to get through that you're doing all you can to do that

Jessica Lewis-Bell

yeah absolutely we've put a lot of resource in place um we have sort of regular webinars um we've got a lot of resources and support and guidance um so you know if an organization hasn't already been in touch with us then they should definitely sort of make that step but as you say it is a rigorous process so i think that the fact that we've got the deadline extension is helpful just in case people don't make their first submission

Paul Offord

i see and another thing i  know that's very important is uh is it the institute wants as many endpoint assessment organizations as possible. so that's large and small to make the transition why is this

Rob Nitsch

well that's thanks paul so it's probably one for me. um that is uh absolutely right Paul and i think there's a key point to be made here but there is absolutely no underlying agenda to skew the market um we're coming completely committed to that vision as is ofqual and as is the department for education um. and what we want is um as well as large providers we also want those um smaller specialists who were the choice of employers who have that great expertise and are really highly valued to add and this is not about controlling or influence the market in some machiavellian way um the whole of this process and you've heard already from jess about the support that ofqual putting in place the whole objective of this process is to get as many people as possible um through recognition so that we continue to operate a broad uh endpoint assessment organization, epao market which has large players as well as the hugely valued smaller specialists

Paul Offord

okay i think now i want to move on to the real bones of this podcast you know how can we help endpoint assessment organizations and what are the top five tips that oqfual could give to endpoint assessment organizations or epaos as they're often called who are looking to apply jess

Jessica Lewis-Bell

yeah sure so um so yeah absolutely we value that sort of market diversity and it's really um it's really great to see sort of the diverse number of organizations that are applying with us. um i think the first thing i'd probably say is don't underestimate the level of detail that we need. i think we're very aware that epaos have gone through different processes with either the esfa or different eqa providers so to really concentrate on what ofqual is looking for there's quite a lot of detail that we require within our application. and sort of linked to that is it's really important to explain how you do things. so we're really interested in how your organization is set up and run how you develop and deliver endpoint assessments and how you identify things like conflict of interest within your organization, so really a really important point is to consider to constantly think about the how rather than the that you have um policies and procedures in place. so really it's about bringing your application to life a little bit so that we can understand the type of organization um that you are and how things are delivered in the field. so i think uh i've sort of probably combined two top tips there in terms of the level of detail and making sure that you explain the the how. um i think other tips i would say would be to make the most of your ofqual engagement lead so once you register with ofqual you'll be assigned a contact that will support you throughout the process and that will be the same contact that is able to support you until you submit your recognition application. so you know really make the most of their expertise and all the resources that are available to you and they can signpost those to you. and i think the i think another really important point is to don't necessarily assume that we know your industry um so we're very much assessment experts we have a lot of assessment expertise in house we're not necessarily industry experts, so you know if there's sort of a lot of jargon in your assessment plan then you might need to consider explaining what some of those um some of that terminology means um or even you know sort of jargon in your sector that you might be quite familiar with some sometimes it helps to sort of provide a glossary um of of key terms or something like that. likewise you know if there's if there's certain things that are stipulated in the assessment plan and that's why you do things the way that you do, then tell us that so it's sort of drawing out things that are explicit there in the assessment plan. so whilst we sort of we use industry experts as part of our regulation and ongoing eqa the recognition team itself will be looking at your assessment capability so it's really important to consider that throughout your application and remember that.

Paul Offord

Okay

Jessica Lewis-Bell

and i think the last point i'd probably make um as rob's already said is don't leave it until the last minute to submit um i think you know we've got we've got a sort of steady number of applications coming through at the moment which is really good and so we'll continue to support organizations to make sure that happens

Paul Offord

okay and i'd like like just like to bring in charlotte now have you got you know any views on that anything that you could provide us the benefit of your experience with charlotte on this

Charlotte Bosworth

yeah so i suppose there's a regulated epao who's been through the process i'd say don't over engineer your application be thorough. i think the main thing is demonstrating your competence as part of the process i would say it's really important to be transparent on the way you work and operate. be able to articulate how you monitor and review assessments to ensure that fairness and consistency and quality. and also be clear where you have areas where you can feel you could do better and how you plan to improve. you know ofqual aren't necessarily expecting to see everything in place but if you can show actually you've pinpointed where there are areas of weakness and what you're actually going to be doing to improve them you know i think that's something they definitely would want to see. so the regulator is in place to ensure the quality is retained so be clear on how you do this and i think that's absolutely key in in applications. i'd also like to to come back to the point that both rob and jess have made around you know don't leave getting in your application until the last minute. the worst thing i think is a mad rush by everybody getting an application applications in july i think the sooner we can kind of get an idea of who's putting themselves forward then any extra support and advice and guidance can be put in place if there are people who need that support and to to maybe improve if they're not successful first time.

Paul Offord

 i see good advice thank you and um what is the actual process for endpoints say endpoint assessment organizations

Jessica Lewis-Bell

should i take that one

Paul Offord

 i think so yeah so what do they need to do what process do they need to follow

Jessica Lewis-Bell

so um so we have a portal where the application is tracked and we sort of coordinate all of our engagement through there so if you are an epao listening to this and you haven't already please register on our portal. if you're not sure where to find that you can email us at strategic.relationships@ofqual.gov.uk  and that's where we'll assign you to one of the team who will be able to sort of kickstart that engagement and support you um with your application

Paul Offord

okay and you can also con people can also contact the institute with questions at EQAQueries.IFA@education.gov.uk using the subject line eqa transition query. and uh okay moving to the next question um how will the actual transition process work in terms of when eqa changes over for each apprenticeship from the institute to ofqual. so what point will the the apprenticeships switch over

Rob Nitsch

yes great i'll i'll sweep that one up um the we're going to run this process apprenticeship standard by apprenticeship standard.  so we're going to do it um in a sort of in a mechanized way like that and that. um we will only transition a standard when all the endpoint assessment organisations on that particular standard have achieved recognition or they've missed one of the two critical deadlines and the reason that we're doing that is because we can't have two organizations providing eqa of a particular apprenticeship standard because there's certain empowerments to an eqa um and we need to make sure that those are exercised by only one organization

Paul Offord

i see and is there anything you'd like to add charlotte

Charlotte Bosworth

so um you know again i kind of come back to that point is just be honest, just be transparent in whatever you're doing within your application uh jess has already talked about a number of the resources and support that's available uh i'd also kind of signpost people to through the federation of awarding bodies, there is a whatsapp group which is there really just to kind of give that ongoing advice and support along the way so people you know can certainly access that if you uh go to the federation of awarding bodies website there's a link there called quality clinics and that's where you can access the the whatsapp group and you know just continue to engage with the institute with ofqual uh through their stakeholder relationship team and you know the federation are there to kind of help and support along the way as well

Paul Offord

great stuff and the nice thing about that whatsapp group as i understand is it's fast responses is that correct

Charlotte Bosworth

um when when it when it's not sent at two o'clock in the morning yes um but in in normal work days yes so so i'm the orchestrator of that group and you know what what we've found has been really helpful for people is we quite often see people are in the middle of completing their application there might be a question around governance where they just want a bit of clarity so we'll pop a message in their group and people who are also going through the process as well as those that are already regulated you know are very responsive and everybody wants to help everybody be successful in their applications

Paul Offord

i see yeah good stuff and so the transition process it's not just about transition from the institute to ofqual is the timeline being extended for all other endpoint assessment organizations that need to transition so to transition to ofqual from eqa providers other than the institute what are the new arrangements rob

Rob Nitsch

thanks paul and just to recap um the current situation is that eqa can be delivered by ofqual and office for students so some organizations are already in the um ofqual system so to speak uh eqa can also be delivered through the institute service that's what's provided by open awards and that's the group that we've been discussing so far but there's also another group of providers um and the other group of providers uh we're committed to announcing how the migration arrangements for those organizations uh will happen um and we're committed to making that announcement by the end of april and we're working for that timeline paul

Paul Offord

okay and and what other organizations are they you know what other groups are there you know within the existing system what are the other the other types of groups

Rob Nitsch

they're professional bodies um organizations which are linked particularly closely to sectors um and of course trying to bring all these together and to simplify it is what's fundamentally at the at the root of the um of the transition that we've we're trying to deliver here

Paul Offord

that's right you know i see okay and um where does it want on a more broader scale where can end point assessment organizations look up advice so can we go into a bit more detail about that please jessica and charlotte

Jessica Lewis-Bell

yeah so um there's quite a lot of information on on both of the ofqual website and the institute's website um we have regular webinars that we invite all endpoint assessment organizations to um the esfa's newsletter is a good port of information for signposting and as charlotte said we also run workshops through fab um and also aelp um so look out for those um i think if you're an epao and you don't really know where to start the best thing to do is probably to speak to your ofqual engagement lead or register on our portal if you haven't already and then they that that person will be able to sign post as to where all those resources are

Paul Offord

i see in this i know ofqual of i've produced videos case studies that there's all sorts of guidance out there isn't it and so the big message is you know use it as early as possible if you possibly can i would say

Jessica Lewis-Bell

i was just gonna say we even got a youtube playlist now of sort of that brings together all the previous webinar recordings that we've done um and some of those are where epao's who have been successful have sort of shared their experiences which is a really good learning opportunity so definitely want to check out

Paul Offord

good stuff and charlotte have you got anything to add

Charlotte Bosworth

yes yes so as jess has highlighted ofqual work to develop quite a lot of uh support resources but i think i think what we've recognized is sometimes organizations just want to kind of chat through some of the areas to check their understanding and get advice and jess has mentioned the relationship team uh within ofqual but there is also that whatsapp group we've also developed as part of the federation of awarding bodies a series of podcasts and these have come from the areas that we've seen as the most popular areas that people are questioning so it'll be around governance, demonstrating your technical ability, understanding what the cost of being a regulated organization is and then also once you are recognized what are the continual measures you need to have in place to to ensure that you retain that regulation. so as i said if you pop over to the federation of awarding bodies uh website on there there is a link of quality clinics that has that additional uh support. from a personal level as well i also want to see as many organizations successful it's in all our interest to retain quality so my email address is charlotte.bosworth@innovateawardng.org  and people can always reach out to me if i can also help them along the way

Paul Offord

thanks very much charlotte good stuff and what happens if endpoint assessment organizations aren't successful in gaining recognition from ofqual

Rob Nitsch

paul the um it's important to stress that these timelines are in phase one so that's people who currently are on the institute service um. so if an epao does not apply by the first of july first of july this year um who would currently eqa'd on the institute service uh they will be removed from the register of endpoint assessment organizations. for those who have applied by the first of July but are not that they need to achieve ofqual recognition by december the 16th and if they don't achieve that they will also be removed from the register. two points i would i would like to make the first one is that despite these timelines organizations uh are welcome to reapply for ofqual recognition and therefore membership of the agencies register um later but i would stress we're trying to get as many organizations through the um through this process as we want to we want as vibrant to market in terms of epaos that we can possibly um achieve and also that uh as you've heard and has been a key theme of this podcast is that um we're absolutely committed to working with endpoint assessment organizations to make sure that they're successful uh and that is ahead of the application and uh during the application for recognition

Paul Offord

i see and just to clarify as you said what we're talking about here these deadlines that's just for phase one isn't it

Rob Nitsch

correct that's phase one so that is the current eqa is provided by open awards on behalf of the institute

Paul Offord

okay and there'll be an announcement soon on in terms of what's happening with phase two

Rob Nitsch

yes we committed in um our engagements to announcing this by the end of april um and we're on track to do that

Paul Offord

good stuff okay and what will happen if no endpoint assessment organizations gain ofqual recognition by 16th of december for a particular apprenticeship so that's kind of capacity isn't it we're talking about there what's the contingency plan

Rob Nitsch

well the first point to make paul is that our absolute goal is to ensure full coverage um uh to that end it would be really helpful if our endpoint assessment organizations that decide they don't wish to pursue ofqual recognition could make that known as um as soon as possible and that will allow us to encourage um uh other organizations to to offer a service for or offer an epao service for those standards but we're also putting in place a sort of safety net mechanism that will ensure that no learners are left without an endpoint assessment organization but let's be a centrally provided service but i would underlie that this is in uh in extremis and uh we would prefer that it was done a different way but the absolute priority is to migrate as many endpoint assessment organizations as it's possible to do through the ofqual recognition uh process to provide this simplified eqa arrangement that we've been talking about

Paul Offord

okay and how confident are you that sufficient numbers of end-point assessment organizations will apply and that goes to jess at ofqual

thanks paul so yeah we are confident we've been working with organizations since the transfer of standards began in august so we've been working with well over 100 epaos that are sort of in that phase one category. we're really committed to making sure that those organizations are successful um and we know that you know we know that there's still a lot of work to be done and it's really important that we keep on getting our messages out there through things like this podcast. um so really we just want to reiterate that what the deadlines are that to make sure that organizations are aware and that they can still work on our application and as has been said sort of throughout we've put in a really extensive plan of comms and engagement that began in august and we'll keep on supporting and talking to as many people as many organizations as we can through this first wave of transition and also on to phase two

Paul Offord

thanks very much uh just drawing things to a close then everybody is there anything else that that you would like to say that you would like to get out there to our listeners

Rob Nitsch

well i think i would just underlie please engage with the process as um as early as as you can and also to just absolutely reiterate that that this is not about some form of market control or uh machiavellian move it's it's actually about trying to get as many organizations as possible absolutely as many as possible through the Ofqual recognition process um so that we have a really decent sized vibrant high quality market moving forward

Paul Offord

good stuff

Charlotte Bosworth

i suppose from my perspective you know i think when people hear the word regulator they assume it's this scary non-facing organization but you know i can say from my own experience it's a really approachable team that just want to retain quality and do what's right for the system so so utilize the team there and recognize that they all want the same outcome as us which is high quality endpoint assessment

Jessica Lewis-Bell

so yeah thanks both i'd agree with that and it's in ofquals interest to be able to support apprentices and to support learners which is one of the reasons that ofqual was established um so as has already been said you know really encourage you to make the most of the resources out there and we're here to be able to support you through that recognition process as much as possible so please make sure you make the most of that and get in touch with us if you haven't already

Paul Offord

great stuff okay then that's all we have time for in today's episode. thank you all for joining me and i hope end-point assessment organizations have found it useful. don't delay do get in contact with ofqual and make sure you get your applications in as quickly as possible. thanks for listening and look out for the next episode. bye

The Institute talks…about autism and apprenticeships

The Institute talks…about autism and apprenticeships

April 2, 2021

As part of our apprentice panel podcasts, Joel Roach our apprentice panel host interviews new member Rhiannon Rees-Jones.

Rhiannon is a former level 3 business admin apprentice at Northamptonshire County Council.

In the podcast, Rhiannon talks about her diagnosis of Asperger’s in her late twenties and the challenges she has had to overcome and why she wanted to join the apprentice panel

On completion of her apprenticeship, Rhiannon achieved an overall grade of Distinction.

She also achieved two Northamptonshire Health and Care Partnership awards, the Apprenticeship Award for ‘Behind the Scenes’ in Adult Social Care and ‘Apprentice of the Year’ 2020.

Transcript

Joel Roach

Hi, i'm Joel roach an apprentice at Microsoft and i'm also an apprentice panel member and I'll be hosting today's podcast for the apprentice panel podcast today. I'm joined by Rhiannon rees-jones welcome Rhiannon would you like to introduce yourself.

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

thank you so my name is Rhiannon Rees-Jones I work as a business support officer for the learning disability team part of what is currently Northamptonshire county council but as of the first of April we're going to be splitting into two unitaries and I'll be part of the west Northamptonshire council.

Joel Roach

well thank you so much for joining me today we'll dive straight into it so I want to ask first of all a couple of questions about your apprenticeship so what is your apprenticeship? what level was it?

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

I recently completed the business administrator level 3 apprenticeship last November.. which was brilliant because it really expanded on my skill set.

Joel Roach

so how did you initially find out about the apprenticeship um and about the fact that there was an opportunity that was open to you?

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

I think the first time was coming across an email from the learning resource hub so they had an information day so I thought i'd wander down and see what all the stores were, saw the apprenticeships and business have been on there i think at first i kind of wandered past a bit and then got called over so i thought well i'll get the forms and then after a while i was still umming and ahhing so i wasn't sure whether i'd be able to handle what was involved and whether i'd be have the qualifications to actually apply for it and then i had another email come round from my line manager's manager with the same information and then i thought why not i might as well do it i'll pursue it and my line manager my colleagues actually encouraged me as well and i'm actually glad i did because it gave me the motivation i needed to excel in my current role as well

Joel Roach

no that's amazing to hear um it's great there was so many people around you that were encouraging you to do this as well

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

yeah i think how a good support network is vital

Joel Roach

now you came into your apprenticeship um having already been established in your career for a few years um so how did you find being a more mature apprentice um how was that experience for you?

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

 it actually went a lot easier than i thought it was going to be of course i went in thinking they're all going to be younger than me and i'm probably going to be the only one that's older but then i thought well if you can go to university as a mature student why can't you do the same for an apprenticeship and then when it rather it was age restricted before that kind of put me down having the age limit lifted makes it so much easier as well it's never too late to start a career put it that way

Joel Roach

no absolutely that's a yeah that's a great message to put out there um you sort of mentioned there were lots of you know you weren't the only mature apprentice on the uh on the course um did you have a sort of special network with them did you have a chance to sort of share ideas and perspectives with them

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

 i had the chance to share perspectives with everyone because any one of the mature apprentices in my cohort and the other two are in their twenties but i think the mature apprentice i kind of got in touch with first so i think it was a lot easier and then i've done you brought the other two in and i was also able to encourage them to speak up when they needed to

Joel Roach

did you have a lot of learnings to share with the younger apprentices because you're already established in your career you've already got all this experience you've picked up along the way

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

yeah i think the first one the first questions we did was to introduce ourselves and say three things that we thought no one else knew it was quite interesting in that respect so it yeah we had one lady who was working in a school one who's in finance then myself and admin and one he was part of a children's charity as well so that was interesting to share experiences from that perspective

Joel Roach

yeah definitely and i think it's always great to have different viewpoints you know regardless there's a discussion um but you know certainly something i've experienced in my apprenticeship when we've got different people from different organisations the conversations we have so much more productive and we all learn a huge amount more

 Rhiannon Rees-Jones

yeah

Joel Roach

now reading into your biography on the institute's website you mentioned that you were diagnosed with asperger's in your late 20s can you tell me a little bit about that

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

yeah so i've diagnosed in my late twenties after much debate from my mum i wanted to understand a bit more why i behaved a certain way how my behaviour came across and then it really helped me getting the diagnosis and my therapist was able to talk me through some steps i could take as well i think but it's still a bit of an adjustment i suppose it's always challenging but the more i'm able to own the fact that i have this diagnosis the easier it becomes

Joel Roach

yeah you mentioned there was an adjustment there for you was there also an adjustment for your employer when they sort of when you had it when you told them

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

i think there was but not as much as i thought it was going to be they were really embracing really welcomed me and able to talk to me as well

Joel Roach

oh that's great to hear and how has being autistic affected you in your apprenticeship

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

it started challenging at first but when i started to get overwhelmed i came up with the idea of talking to my line manager and my internal assessor about granting me an extra day study so i was able to do two days today instead of one especially when my studies got interrupted because during one of my study days i was actually called upon them to be a key worker to answer phones

Joel Roach

oh that sounds great what sort of things were you doing as a key worker who were you answering phones for

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

 i was asking phones on behalf of providers so care providers so care homes, members of the public just to help them through and pinpoint where they needed to go to

Joel Roach

oh that sounds great doing a bit to support everyone through lockdown yeah and

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

also it doesn't help that we were sure to start at the time as well

Joel Roach

never ideal

 Rhiannon Rees-Jones

see what you missed

Joel Roach

yeah absolutely um so it sounds like you had some good support in place do you think that support is sort of a common theme for most employers or do you think there's sort of more we could be doing um to support autistic people

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

i think there is a lot more that could be done because they're more less dependent on the employer how much they actually know about the spectrum so having bite size awareness sessions really helps and actually having done my english functional skills level 2 presentation i was actually then able to broaden my horizons and present to other people across the council the wider council network

Joel Roach

so is that presentation part of your apprenticeship

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

it was yeah i entitled it living in a bubble because that's how i view the world

Joel Roach

yeah no that's great you know and amazing that you've been able to apply those skills from your apprenticeship you know so immediately into something that's obviously a personal matter for you

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

yeah definitely

Joel Roach

yeah now you've mentioned some of the things you did um working as a key worker but what do you do in your day-to-day role

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

so my day-to-day role can vary again i'm on the phones a lot of the time being the main point of call i also attend various meetings where i have to record minutes um actually on hand then to update spreadsheets and anything that is passed my way from social workers or from the team manager and i've actually been called a star and in my last recent supervision my line manager actually said i wish i could give you a pay rise

Joel Roach

oh that's great to hear that you're getting that recognition and do you think you've been given more responsibility more um tasks since completing your apprenticeship

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

i definitely have been i think that was a way forward in getting this role because i was quite shocked when they said i really think you'd be really good at this and i'm surprised how quickly i've actually managed to adapt into the role especially given that my line manager's been a long-term stick for a while as well so i had to run two hubs instead of the one

Joel Roach

that's great to hear that they've you know felt that you're up for it and that you've felt able to adapt into the role so quickly that's really positive to hear

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

yeah

Joel Roach

now of course you've recently finished your apprenticeship um so i wonder what was your endpoint assessment like

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

well when i first found out i was going to have to do it remotely that was a bit of a shock to the system doing my knowledge test was probably the most daunting aspect of all because i'm used to having someone actually in the room with me and at the start of it i then had to tell my dad can you move my ipad so they can actually see me thinking i'm probably gonna get marked down for that and then getting a 70% was absolutely brilliant but then when i came to do my portfolio interview and my presentation the end-point assessor was really welcoming and actually allowed me to backtrack a bit as well and i came out with an overall distinction which was amazing on top of my other achievements

Joel Roach

oh that's amazing to hear congratulations um now i suppose one question is as we sort of move to a more digital way of working are there considerations employers should be making for autistic employers employees

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

that's a very interesting question i think again it's more listening ask them how they're feeling on your regular basis and they can maybe set up like a whatsapp group or something that they can be in touch with them but it's different for every person but it's kind of a step-by-step process i don't know how they feel about whether they prefer to be in the workplace or at home but there's always ways you can accommodate for both

Joel Roach

yeah absolutely and i think obviously we need to be careful of everyone rushing to either be completely at home or completely at work um it seems like we're about to find a good in between um so hopefully we'll get we'll get there soon

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

yeah

Joel Roach

um now coming back to your epa did you need or make use of any extra preparation or support resources to do that

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

yeah my like my internal assessor so i had to give me quite a bit of work to do so she'd advise me where i could add stuff in or i could take stuff out and then as we went along towards the end of it she was then like well we can miss that assignment out that's not really relevant anymore you know she's really useful and i would allow me to put screenshots in and then she was very impressed with my portfolio of evidence by the end of it the only thing i forgot to do is page number my evidence

Joel Roach

oh there's always something you forget there's always one thing yeah but well you came out of it with a distinction so it all went well in the end

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

it did yeah that was not the only thing that came out of having done the apprenticeship because i also won two awards which was the northamptonshire health and care partnership awards one was for behind the scenes at adult social care the other one was apprentice of the year 2020.

Joel Roach

oh that's amazing congratulations um was there anything specific that you did for those awards or is it just recognizing the amazing work you were already doing

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

my internal assessor just approached me one day and said i want to nominate you for this award and then asked me if it was okay and then having got that award i was then nominated by the chief executive office to attend the royal garden party which then of course was cancelled due to covid but hopefully in the future i may still get a chance to attend that as well

Joel Roach

that's amazing and it's great you're getting that recognition and that people are noticing all the amazing things that you're doing

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

yeah i just want the same for everyone else on the spectrum as well

Joel Roach

yeah absolutely i guess on the topic of amazing things that you're doing you're one of our newest recruits to the apprentice panel so what made you apply to join

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

i applied to join basically to expand my network to give another voice for autism and continue raising awareness and plus it's not every day you get an opportunity to then advise government officials ministers of state and the ways forward so i think it's always changing

Joel Roach

yeah absolutely and you know i know that you're working with the institute on raising awareness for autism in apprenticeships so i wonder how do you plan on doing this

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

they've already had a meeting with various panel members and the institute members and giving them some of my ideas such as easy read material large material and then i'm presenting at the meeting where i've got a bit of information on the spectrum what to look out for like the behaviours to recognize and then hopefully build a platform and it will feed into best practice guidance as well so it's all very interesting

Joel Roach

oh that sounds great and have you had a good reception so far from the uh from the team from the panel from the people you've spoken to if they've been receptive to all your ideas

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

they've been very receptive actually yeah

Joel Roach

oh that's fantastic to hear that's great i mean it seems like there's people that are willing to listen and people that are willing to learn um so it's amazing that you've come along to um to do the speaking and to give that perspective

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

yeah and it also gives me a chance to learn from them as well it's all across sharing experiences

Joel Roach

yeah absolutely and i'm sure there's going to be a huge amount of learning going both ways um so we're very grateful to have you on the on the panel

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

i'm very grateful to be here too

Joel Roach

um so we'll finish off with um any advice you have um for potential apprentices so what would you sort of say to people who are thinking about doing an apprenticeship

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

i just say it's not as daunting as you think it's going to be think about what you love to do where you want your career to go same for employers ask them what they're wanting to do like the hobbies their interests and it's basically having regular contacts and maybe having some bite-sized sessions just to learn a little bit about what's involved

Joel Roach

no that sounds great

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

be yourself and love yourself as well because you can't love yourself have you expected everyone else too

Joel Roach

yeah absolutely um and do you have any specific advice for people for autistic people who are doing or considering an apprenticeship

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

i think it's a really good route for as long as you get enjoyment out of it that's worth the effort anything and you can always have a buddy on hand just to advise if you need to just to speak to it does get overwhelming at times i remember the amount of times i was left in tears because i thought i couldn't do it and then i got the encouragement that i needed even from my cohort the other apprentices

Joel Roach

yeah absolutely i think having having someone there that you can lean on and go to whenever it gets tough because i think inevitably it will always get tough for anyone um is always helpful just to have someone you can uh go to with the the hard questions and the uh what the need to share

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

yeah yeah it's not always easy for an autistic person to do that just knowing there's someone there who's there when they need them

Joel Roach

is there is there steps that employers tutors training providers are the steps they can take to sort of reach out and make that first contact if it's harder for autistic people to do to do that

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

you can always provide an incentive to motivate them and praise them on the work they're doing well suggest easy points but always make sure you use bullet points and clear concise information as well because if you get overwhelmed it's very easy for an autistic person to kind of digress and say i kind of own little world they lose sight of what they do they lose concentration as well

Joel Roach

yeah absolutely and is there anything that employers can do to attract autistic people or to remove any obstacles to autistic people from applying to roles that they might see from an advertisement or from an organization that might make them sort of go oh no i can't work there

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

i think again it's more simple isn't it like in the job description they make it more simplified maybe some like easy read pictures or something just to kind of symbolize what they're asking for and give them a chance to ask questions as well you could even go to when they they have recruitment days every now and then as well so or maybe have someone who's on the spectrum already working in that role just to tell them a bit about what's involved as well

Joel Roach

yeah absolutely i think organizations can so often get bogged down in all of their jargon and sort of the terms that they're all familiar with using but no one else is so it's great to put everything in you know for everyone um really that's thinking of applying to putting things into simple terms that everyone can understand and and sort of process um is always going to be helpful

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

yeah definitely and sometimes large print helps as well

Joel Roach

so rhiannon a bit of sort of advice for people that are listening to this what could people do if they go into work tomorrow how can they make their employers their organizations a better place for autistic people to work

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

they could talk to their line manager or the supervisor or even a colleague you'll probably find that some of your colleagues may be living with someone who's on the spectrum or have be on respect to themselves you could arrange for information stands i know that at the council before we've had stands in the atrium where people can go past and get information that way anything and everything you could also one of the things that i did was to do articles on the informer magazine which is a council online magazine that all employees get to access which is quite good and there's also various poems and quotes and you're seeing the various badges as well as an autism awareness badge looks a bit like a jigsaw so i just do anything and everything i can to raise awareness

Joel Roach

that's great advice and hopefully uh hopefully the listeners um of this will take that away and put it into action in their own companies

Rhiannon Rees-Jones

yeah

Joel Roach

well that's all we have time for in today's episode i want to say a huge thank you to rhiannon today for taking the time to tell us about her experiences and sharing her perspective so thank you everyone for listening please look out for the next episode of our podcast series thank you

 

The Institute talks…about women in apprenticeships

The Institute talks…about women in apprenticeships

March 8, 2021

In this episode of The Insitute talks, we talk about women in apprenticeships.

In the podcast, we are joined by Anna West, Deputy Director for apprenticeship approvals and funding, Helen Douglas, Director of apprenticeships at Cisco and digital route panel member, and Stacey Dunne, Telecoms apprentice at Virgin Media and an apprentice panel member.

We ask the questions ‘what has your experience been like as women in apprenticeships’ and ‘what are the barriers for women’.

The overall proportion of women on apprenticeships remains at around 50%. At the Institute, we want to see far more women taking STEM apprenticeships and know that employers feel the same.

However, there are lots of great opportunities out there for women in STEM apprenticeships right up to degree level. At Cisco, Helen talks about all the new initiatives she’s set up to encourage more women into the digital sector, resulting in 49% of their apprentices being women!

At the Institute, we are continuing to look at diversity and inclusion within our organisation and in our provision of technical education and apprenticeships. In the podcast, we discuss ways we can have more diverse representation on our panels, and how diversity and inclusion is at the heart of everything we do.

You can subscribe to The Institute talks podcast on Amazon MusicApple podcastSpotify and all other major podcast platforms.

Transcript

Sarah

Hello, I’m Sarah a former apprentice and a social media manager at the Institute and your host for this podcast today. For this special podcast about women in apprenticeships, I’m joined by Anna West, Helen Douglas and Stacy Dunne. So, welcome all would you like to introduce yourselves. 

Anna

Hi everyone, I’m Anna West. I’m the deputy director for apprenticeship approvals and funding at the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education

Helen

Hi, my name is Helen Douglas, I lead apprenticeships for Cisco in the UK, and also have the honour of sitting on the digital route panel.

Stacey

Hello my name's Stacey I’m based in Hertfordshire and I’m currently a network apprentice for Virgin Media and I’m also on the apprentice panel for the Institute of Apprentices as well.

Sarah

Wonderful, thank you. So I’m really glad you can all join me today. So well, let's get started into the podcast then. So, this will be a discussion, so let's start off with the first kind of topic and question we've got for you. So as women working in apprenticeships or as an apprentice Stacey, what has your experience been like?

Stacey

It's been really, really positive.  Obviously, I’m an engineer and that is mostly kind of male-based. So there is quite a high number of males compared to females doing this role. But I have met many females on this during my apprenticeship, but also within the job as well. I actually joined Virgin Media with a specific all-women wanted kind of recruitment drive. So, there was a bunch of women and that I knew from my local area, and we all kind of joined together, and it was really nice to have that support from other women there. But to be fair, the all the guys that work here are beyond supportive, and you're treated like everybody else. They will absolutely rip you if you do something stupid. So, I’ve just found it a really positive experience. But having that female support as well, which was unexpected, I didn't expect to have other women with me to be honest. I thought it was a kind of individual recruitment basis. But having that kind of women's support as well was really nice. Not required, but it was a definite cherry on the cake. So it's been so, so positive for me, I’ve really enjoyed myself so far.

Sarah

That sounds really good. It sounds really interesting that you had like it was a specific drive for women but you're just like a normal person there, and everyone treats you exactly the same.

Stacey

You're expected to you know, do everything that everybody else does, and I find that the gender really doesn't matter here. You know if there's any ever any issues I don't see them as you know a woman issue or a girl issue. I just see them as people issues, and I think that's what they really try to promote here. That everyone's kind of equal, and on the same you know you've got the same possibilities as anybody else. I know they are trying to get more women involved into engineering. I think maybe women maybe think, oh I couldn't do that, or you know, all that's not for me, or you know, I come from an arts background. So, I come from dance and photography, so never say never. The women that I joined with, one worked in child care for years, and another was a beauty therapist for years and years while she raised her kids. So it's a definite nice background of people that have all come over now. Even with the guys that are here, there's a there's an apprentice on service, and he's an ex-jockey. So, it's not gender specific really for the for the history that you've got here. I think that's what makes it so nice and everybody's welcome so it's lovely.

Sarah

That sounds amazing. That's a really nice place to work as well, it's really positive. Helen, you have got your hand up, do you want to come in on something.

Helen

 So, as somebody who hires apprentices, one of the things that I discovered when I first took over the team, was that we just weren't getting girls applying. You know, you've heard from Stacy. It's not that they're not capable, or they have an interest. I think it's the way that sometimes we talk about or promote or advertise for certain apprenticeships, especially in the digital and technical area. So we made a really big effort to change the way that we talked about the roles. Because I think what interests girls into roles is different from what boys are interested in. So, when they get into their job absolutely, it's just we're all people, we're all employees, we're all apprentices, but it's what attracts them. So we talked more about what an apprenticeship, a technical apprenticeship at Cisco would give you for your life. It gives you balance, it gives you flexibility, it enables you to work with people like you. and who are different from you. It lets you be passionate about your, you know, something that you care about, a particular cause. So we find that when we're attracting girls and young women we just have to change the language. I'm proud, but still have to push the dial. We have 49% females on our apprenticeship, I so want to get it to 51. I’ve gotta get it to 51% this year. I think it's been a great journey, and totally agree with Stacey. Apprenticeships are great places to bring different diverse groups, whether it's gender diversity, whether it's ethnic diversity, in all kinds of diversity. When everyone gets together they can learn from each other. It's just that attraction how do we get girls excited. I think they can have a technical career.

Sarah

Definitely. It sounds really positive, with the fact that there is different perceptions that women want and young girls want compared to men, and I think that's a really important difference. It's not a negative difference, everyone's individual in themselves. Having that grasp on it is completely unique and I really like that. You're definitely encouraging that kind of wave thing of like you're individual and you can do anything, which is really positive. So Anna, have you got any experiences that you've had?

Anna

My experience has been really positive as well. Obviously working at the Institute we have over half our staff are female, and over half of our management are female as well which is fantastic. We've got a female CEO, so you know fantastic role models all around. My experience of working with apprentices both male and female, but you know particularly the female apprentices on our apprentice panel, it's been fantastic. They're such good advocates for the opportunities apprentices give to women looking for apprenticeships, particularly in the sectors where they're not so well represented at the moment, which unfortunately does still include engineering. Even though it's fantastic to hear about Stacey's good experience. I think things are changing and they can only change for the better now. So yeah it's been really positive.

Sarah

I think it's definitely a good thing that our management are so like, there's lots of women, that we've got quite a high percentage, and we've got a woman's CEO, which is great. It's good to like, have that  role model, especially, like even for me being here at the Institute, having senior managers that are women is so good to see. You can see the opportunities for women, which is really great. So turning that a little bit on its head. What are the challenges you think that women have in apprenticeships.

Helen

This is an interesting one. We are trying very hard to kind of overcome this at the moment. One of the biggest challenges is parents, actually. So parents of girls go no, an apprenticeship isn't for my daughter. Part of it I think is the history of apprenticeships, they tend to be more technically or you know skills based. So if you think about engineering mechanic or mechanics, all those kind of things. I think it's partly that, and I think that also because there is so much push around gender equality. Again parents want to push their daughters into university because they believe that's what will give them that gender equality. So, for this round of we're just going into recruitment at the moment, and we've got some parents actually talking about their daughters on the programme. What it's meant for them, how it's changed their lives. How it is a real opportunity for young women, how it's equal, if not in some ways better, than going down the university routes. So, yeah, an unexpected challenge. It wasn't what we thought, but yeah, the whole the whole perception of parents, and parents specifically of daughters.

Sarah

 That's really interesting. I think that's kind of goes across all apprenticeships to be honest. I know that it's not just specific to like maybe STEM subjects or anything. I think it's across a big thing, and I we’re slowly getting there. I know, like for me, my parents, they never went to uni, they were very much like, you've got to go, you've got to go, and when I turn around and gone, that's not happening, and it was sort of like well, what are you going to do? It's like well I'm going to try an apprenticeship and now they're like, yes, this is great. Even my brother's now got an apprenticeship. So their perceptions have changed. They wanted the first one, and I think that's a big thing, it's like when your parents don't go to uni, they want you to go to get that experience, but you don't need to. Stacey, what were you like, was that kind of similar for you?

Stacey

See. I have been to university, but that was to do my dance degree, and then i was a teacher after that. I didn't do dance full-time. I've always worked full-time since I was 16 so it's always been kind of an addition to whatever I’ve done in my work life. I've always found ways to kind of work around that. But more I kind of just wanted to speak about what Helen mentioned with the parents. So do you find that the kids were kind of disagreeing with their parents and their parents were really guiding them to what they wanted them to do? I remember a dad when I was on service looked at me once, and he went, oh I wouldn't let you, I wouldn't let my daughter do what you do. I was just like, but why. I didn't have a full-on debate or discussion. I didn't have the time, I was very busy, but it was just quite interesting the way he's, I don't know, he clearly saw a woman doing the job, so it was quite interesting, oh no, i wouldn't let, oh no, no, no. What are your thoughts on that Helen i found that quite interesting.

Helen

So, we have exactly that. We spend a lot of time doing outreach, and we have specific work experience for girls. We get them in the door, and then usually, because they've got to tick a box at school right that's it. I'll be honest a lot of them come in, and then they get in, and go wow! You know if you're working for a big company it's the same with you, you know Cisco,  it's a big company, and so there's lots of jobs. There's all those jobs in between that nobody tells you about, so they're getting through the door and they go wow, this is really interesting, I want to do an apprenticeship now. Then they come back and go well mum and dad don't want me to do it. So I've i i actually developed something a couple years ago. Which was a program for daughters and dads, because if a dad can see it through his daughter's eyes, that's when you get the needle moving, right. Because men have a vision they sit in the office, and it's not just about the potential of their daughters going to apprenticeships, it's just that general gender view. I often have male colleagues say to me, oh I didn't even know there was an issue with gender, or what do you mean women get treated differently, I'm like yes we do. So, if you can do anything through dads and daughters, do it through a dad's eyes. So, we have had brought parents in. There are specific ethnic groups as well where fathers particularly don't want their daughters to come into industry, because either they think that  it isn't a safe environment for them, or they may potentially have to go away from home. So that's a particular group that we do work very, very, closely with, just to assure them that they are looked after. We obviously have very strict rules in place on how we treat people, and you know, women are treated with respect, and that they will have a very good career. So, it did, we have actually had to have direct conversations with parents.

Stacey

 I like that you get them in though, because that's probably where, if the daughter's eyes are changed then their eyes certainly will be, especially if they can see their daughters are passionate about it. It's put a little light bulb in their head going, I can do this, I would love this.

Helen

They really like the idea that they're kids aren't going to have £60,000  worth of debt as well that's usually the massive, massive, pro.

Sarah

Yes, now that that's really interesting, especially the dads and daughters thing that's really interesting. I would have loved that, that would be really good, like especially like, it's like oh daddy's little girl, kind of thing, it's like protecting them and actually going like, oh my god like they're really enjoying it. They're more accepting and now that is a really good initiative like wow, well done.

Helen

Why thank you very much.

Stacey

I think it very much where you come from as well. Because my dad was an engineer, he worked at Vauxhalls in IBC. So for him that might, he would have been ,oh he would you know, he would loved that, that, I applied. So, it might just be, well it's like opening up your eyes and your peripherals and really getting having a look and seeing what you can you can do I guess.

Helen

Well I'll tell you what's interesting about that, about where you're from. So we all know that there's been a shift in in perception of apprenticeships you know. So years ago, as I said, it was that kind of you know, if you're working in a garage around the corner, and we still work in garages and there's nothing wrong with that, but it was kind of a very tunnelled view on what apprenticeships gave you. What I'm finding now is that the parents who support apprenticeships are those whose children go to like grammar schools, so the middle class parents are going because they get it, right. They go, okay let me think about this, they're going to get a degree, a really good company. They're going to get a degree, they're going to get experience at a company, and they're going to go into a job. Where more working class parents ,who still it's a status symbol, they really want their kids to go to university, because they didn't. It's trying to shift their perception that apprenticeship isn't a second, it isn't an option b,  it's another option. There are times when is absolutely the right path, if you want to go into medicine, law or accounts. There's certain professions, I would never, you know, discourage someone from not following their dream, but it is an equal option, now an apprenticeship is an equal option. It is not a second class option, it's equal option.

Sarah

I think that's a really interesting thing there. Because I think most people, like especially in the Institute think maybe the middle class, upper class people who think, no we all went to university, you've got to go to the same university we went to and carry on the legacy. Maybe like people did think or maybe working classes trade things but it's interesting that you're seeing it more middle-class people going, well no, it's like you're stupid if you don't, it's a free, not having that debt and having that bar, is it still has that status symbol as a degree. You need to work that social mobility thing of to get up the ladder you need a degree. If you're going from working class upwards that's a really interesting thing that you've noticed, that is really interesting definitely. Stacy do you want to come in on that

Stacy

I just think with a degree, obviously like you said, it comes with a certain amount of prestige, and you work very hard for a certain amount of time to get a certain grade. With  apprenticeships, I think apprenticeship offers something that a degree definitely cannot, and that's experience and knowledge from of your role from the ground up. There is nothing that you will not learn and know by the time you have reached the end of your apprenticeship, and don't get me wrong, even with this within this role, it takes years to become really, really, competent at this role. With the way technology evolves and you know, it just runs a million miles an hour. So it will I think, for some certain roles, it will always take you a little while to really get to grips, and really gain that experience. University can't give you hands-on experience, you learn that when you're actually doing the role, so I think that's one of the most wonderful things about apprenticeships. Is it gives you something that you cannot buy, you can buy information from a book, you know you can read it, but  the hands-on experience is I believe the most valuable thing to do in the world.

Helen

I agree, and when i when I first came into the program I interviewed the second and third years to ask them what was working what they loved about the programme,  where, you know, if they could change something what would it be. The number one thing that excites our apprentices is the rotations, so they get to rotate in different parts of the business, and they talked at length about that. I actually kind of said to them, you haven't mentioned the degree, and it was really interesting. So for me again, which I kind of have a you know, a fundamental emotional reaction to, is because you know learning for me is such a big thing, you know, we can always learn we can always up skill. But none of them, the degree wasn't number one anymore, it's the thing that brings people in, the free degree, the idea of you know getting a degree paid for, but it's not the number one experience, they talk about the experiences in the business.

Sarah

Now that that's really that's a good point, that you've found that people who've gone on to the apprenticeship route, that when they come back to, they go oh I did this did that, and they don't mention the actual well, you actually wanted the degree. You're not saying it, it's not the bit that pulls, like was actually worthwhile afterwards. Anna what is your perception on this, on like the challenges that we can have within apprenticeships and for women.

Anna

 I mean I've totally recognized everything that Stacey and Helen have said. I think the other thing that we hear a lot is schools aren't very well equipped to support people to go into apprenticeships. You know there's such an obvious route for students who are sort of leaving school to go on to further, you know to go into higher education, and it's easy for them they go through UCAS. They sort of, as a process everyone knows, what it is and the careers counsellors at schools are well supported to help people through that. But they're less well supported to help people identify different apprenticeship opportunities because you know, there's quite a range of them, they're across different sectors. So you know, I think that, that's a barrier that comes up a lot, whenever we talk to people who are thinking about apprenticeships. We talk to employers, for both women and men, but you know potentially, even more so women because it's a time when they're having to make some difficult decisions, and you know, you don't want to have to spend a lot of time, you know it shouldn't be as hard as it is to find a good apprenticeship basically. So yeah, I think in addition to the other challenges which totally, I totally agree with, which Stacey and Helen have recognised, it's just that sort of taking that first step out of the ladder and making it as easy as possible.

Helen

Do you know what, I just never thought, then I’m kind of like, I’m always thinking ahead of how we solve it. I think one of the, I’ve never thought about this until you spoke then. I think one of the issues maybe with schools is they use the university entrances as their selling point we got x in Oxbridge. What if we had, what if you had a kind of award system a badging system. If this school got x amounts into the top apprenticeships in the country working with the top companies. I think maybe that we don't promote it enough, that you know this school is feeding into apprenticeships and is you know, is then creating a pathway for these young people to have fantastic future careers. I think maybe the Institute could think about something around that. How they celebrate the schools that feed into apprenticeships.

Stacey

I think it needs to be seen as valuable doesn't it. It needs its value and it's definitely there without a shadow of a doubt.

Helen

Great got an idea to take away there.

Sarah

Thank you. That kind of brings me into the second question. Is that what more can we do or what are we doing or that we need to improve on at the Institute to maybe overcome these challenges. I know we've touched on getting schools, but is there anything else that we can do, that we're doing well at but maybe we need to do more of. Or anything in particular that we're not doing at the Institute, it's a bit of a careful question but any ideas.

Helen

I think going back to, it's going back to the influences isn't it, who influences a young person on their career journey. Parents are one and schools are others. One of the things that we've done, and maybe this could be more broadly done. Is we have a mentor program, so we take our apprentices that we want more of. So we know that working-class boys are an area that you know, we struggle with, young black women, we don't have enough of those, and so we take those who are represented on our apprenticeship and we have an outreach program that they that they lead. So whether it's a youth group or whether it's a discord group online or whatever it is we get them to go out and do that outreach, rather than us, and kind of start that influence, and help them to kind of be mentored on. What it's like to come in and work at a company and do an apprenticeship. I think parents is another big one so you know we do social media on LinkedIn but that's aimed at parents not aimed at young people. We know young people don't go on LinkedIn, so maybe that's something that we can do. I do think that the Institute misses a trick. that we've got all these different route panels, and I still think we need to have more of a holistic view, especially in this new world where industries are going to drop and rise and drop and rise, depending on what's going on. COVID is you know, obliterated certain industries and how do we have those transferable skills. So if we can talk about you know, today you're doing an apprenticeship here, but then you could go into this industry. Or how we just work together. So I think, looking at the influences schools careers, but I think careers officers are so overwhelmed. How do we get them up to speed on everything. So parents and outreach programs for our from our current apprentices. I really like, sorry I know it's my idea, okay, I have that idea of badging. So you know if you think about schools, they have like you know, the healthy eating, they're an eco-school, they're a science school, they're an apprenticeship school. So, I think there's something in that.

Sarah

That's really interesting. I definitely agree with the careers guidance thing. I think I feel like it like, for apprenticeships, it's definitely more the employer's got to go into the school and they've got to do the proactive stuff. With universities, they have their UCAS fairs and they just go, it's quite a passive thing for universities, where it's more active for apprenticeships and employers and stuff, and I think that's, not necessarily the issue, but definitely needs to be looked at, in the sense of, it's definitely starting careers guidance young and having it as a an option equal to everything else. Like maybe year nine so when they're 14 thinking about it. Because I didn't think about apprenticeships until I was 18, and by which time it was like, I wasted two years at sixth form. I put my hands up for that wasted two years. I didn't gain anything from it because I should have been out there doing what I wanted to do. So, I definitely think starting that young is definitely a thing. Stacey was that similar for you when you.

Stacey

Well I don't like to hear you say that six form was a waste, because it wasn't. Because sometimes you simply don't know that you're gonna like or dislike something until you do it. I think we have to be a little bit more acceptable and if I don't it's very easy to put your hands up and say, do you know what, this isn't for me, but then you're able to go into something else with a bit of a clear head and you know, really you know, really welcome that and start that as something new. But for me I learned about this apprenticeship because I was already doing the service, I was a service tech within Virgin Media. For me maybe one of my limitations I’m quite happy to talk about, is that sometimes a lot of information or learning a massive amount of information that I have to retain, especially numbers. Things like signal levels that we have to remember as part of our day-to-day role, sometimes it can take me a little bit, a while to retain that information. That's just I’ve learned,  that's just me. So, I knew that when I wanted to become a network engineer, because I saw what the guys were doing in my local area, and it was something that I really wanted to progress to. When I saw that they were offering it as an apprenticeship, I knew that that was something that would really suit me as a person. You get that specific learning time, and you get that training, and it gives you the time to really learn and retain you know, things from the role that's really going to help and benefit you. So, for me, when I saw the apprenticeship way, I knew that that was the way that I wanted to progress within Virgin Media. I knew that, that would suit me down to a t, and it has, it really has.

Sarah

That's really interesting. Anna we're thinking about all of these issues and stuff, and obviously the stuff we've talked about, maybe overcoming it, do you think that's something we can look at, or what's your opinion on everything.

Anna

I certainly think we need to look at more ways to encourage people to you know, take up apprenticeship opportunities, particularly in women in the STEM sector you know, where it's where they're quite underrepresented at the moment. I  think Helen's right, you know we need to we need to be talking about opportunities across sectors, need to look at options for people to sort of continue their career journeys after their apprenticeships. Maybe that's another apprenticeship, maybe it's you know, different role in different sector. That's certainly something that we've been thinking about in the Institute. Also, you know, just go back to sort of the challenges of women in particular in apprenticeships, there's some more work we can do to make sure that the apprenticeships that we design are as inclusive as possible. They actually do attract people a range of different people and you know they're going to work for everyone. So we've already got some way down that line. We've done some work on making all our language gender neutral, which Helen was very much involved in. You know there's more that we can do there, and we're very conscious that we want to make sure that we keep thinking about sort of, how we're building that inclusivity into the way that we design the product right from the start.

Sarah

That's good. So interesting you pointed on the gender-neutral thing. Coming to you Helen, obviously the digital route panel has been part of quite a lot of initiatives, especially coming out of like the route review. How do you think them initiatives of work, especially around like maybe the gender neutral language stuff. Do you think they're actually working?

Stacy

 Yeah I do. I think the biggest advantage of the having the route panels is that you've got industry in there, and so you know you've got the, it's a you know, bringing together that academic view, the government structure, but then the reality of industry. On our route panel, there are women there's not many, you know again it's the digital route panel so it's STEM subjects, so there are lots of men on there. But the women who are on there,  we all we have a voice, there's not many of us, but we make ourselves known. It's just giving that other perspective, you know we all do it right I'm a white privileged female, I went to university, I'm a director at Cisco, and so I look at the world through my lens. The more lenses we can bring to the table, the more opportunity we have to see all these different perspectives, which makes things richer and you know, and more interesting and innovative. It also enables us then to develop, and offer apprentices apprenticeships that are attractive and appealing to all groups in our society. So, yes, the extra projects that we do on the route panel absolutely work, and if we could do everything I think we'd all have to give up our day jobs. But you know what, it's that, it's the future of the country, it's the future generation who will you know, will drive the economy, and drive their personal growth. So, we have to do it, it's the right thing to do.

Sarah

That's really good. Anna, what about you, with the stuff that's come out of the digital route panel. How do you feel about it, and what they're working on, and it's really impacting the institute isn't it.

Anna

Yeah I think it's fantastic. It's really good to see the route panel having such sort of innovative approach. I mean the gender neutral language is now you know, a standard across all of our different products, and that's having a real impact. Another thing that they did was develop a framework to make sure that digital skills, which are of course relevant across all sectors, can be built into all of the different apprenticeships, you know at the right sort of level. Which is really helpful. I  think it's prompted a bit more sort of innovative approach across some of the other panels, and you know, some new ideas in. For example, we recently launched a green apprenticeship panel, which is looking at opportunities for, just to plug it you know, opportunities for making apprenticeships a bit more green, and supporting the green recovery from COVID, which I think will be really important, and you know, a good way of attracting more women into apprenticeships and STEM subjects hopefully. Because, you know, we know that this generation is particularly driven by sustainability, and they want to work on sort of things that have social impact. So yeah, I think the digital panel has really prompted a great sort of innovative approach, which we're now seeing more and more across the other panels. It's having a really good impact and for apprentices generally.

Sarah

Yeah, there's so much going on that the Institute it’s mind-blowing. Especially like, we've got this, well I say new, it's not that new anymore, we've got our own diversity and inclusion network haven't we. So how do you think this network, and this is going back to you Anna, influences these opportunities, not just at the Institute but also externally as well?

Anna

Yeah, I mean, I think our diversity and inclusion network has been excellent. It's quite new, but it's already having such an impact. They have arranged talks, they arranged training, and they've got a new mentor scheme coming. So that's sort of the internal focus, but it's also made everyone think more generally about, you know, how we can expand that across everything that we do. So we're shortly going to be doing some more work to look at a number of things. The makeup of our trailblazer employer groups, to make sure they're diverse and you know, right from the start of the development process of a range of different inputs have been brought into the development of the products. Our route panels, and as I mentioned some of them you know, the number of women on the panels is a bit lower than we want it to be, or you know, some of the representation isn't quite where we want it to be. So you know, doing a bit more thinking about that, and then also sort of, how we can influence our partners more generally, to think about inclusion, and you know, how we can make our products more inclusive as I said. So, I think you know, the creation of the diversity and inclusion network has really prompted a lot more thinking on our part, about how we can really use you know, how we can really apply that across everything we do, which has been fantastic.

Sarah

It’s definitely like starting within it, we can make waves like externally as well. Like let's start within and we can influence everyone and set an example that we're putting diversity inclusion at the heart of everything that we're doing, which is really positive thing that we should always be shouting about, and think it's the most important thing. So yeah. Talking about, like representation on membership, on panels, so even board members, route panels even the apprentice panel. How do you think we can make them even more diverse and inclusive for everyone? Let's go to Helen first.

Helen

That's a good question. I would like to reiterate what you just said. It should be at the heart of everything that we do. We make a really, really, big effort around that. So i said we've got 49% gender diversity, so about 45% women, I'm going to get over the line. We have about 46% BAME. We have about 33% social mobility. The one that I'm also quite proud of is our neurodiversity. Neurodiversity is a really, really, big area and especially for for females. Females are known to mask and mirror, and so they don't often realise that they're neuro-diverse, and don't often get diagnosed until they're in their 20s, and really has often affected their route into jobs. Because they often feel like, they're difficult, or they're not able, because of this neurodiversity that they weren't aware of. So, I think there's a lot we can do about that representation. If you look at all the diverse groups that you want to go out to, which there are you know, there are many, many, many, different ways you can cut it. The more that you have that representation on your route panel, the more that that route panel can have that that open and true diverse perspective. So, you know, recommend a friend, you know, everybody on the route panel will have a diverse friend, and get them to bring them in. Because I do think, I'm absolutely with you. If we're going to create a fair society, and jobs and apprenticeships that reflect the society in which we live, we have to have more representation on that influencer level, and the root panels are definitely at that influencer level.

Sarah

Definitely. I think it's a really positive thing, seeing how we can make change, and that's definitely. Especially the neurodiversity, and that's definitely a really unknown kind of thing that people don't think about it and like for us. Like I work on the website. It's a big thing, it's like people do have like dyslexia stuff, and it is a high proportion of people. It's not just people you think oh yeah they are, but it's, and people hide it. Like we've had directors who are dyslexic, you're my god that is a real good role model for people with neurodivergence, and that should be highlighted. So I definitely agree with that. Stacy did you want to come in.

Stacey

I  think that that can happen. I think it's also, you know, going through our daily lives and really enforce, enforcing and encouraging and empowering the people that we see. Especially women, as when I was, you know, when I'm out at work and I'm out in the field talking with customers. I see a lot of women saying that's his job, the internet's his job, don't talk to me about it. I don't understand, talk to him, talk to the other half, he'll know what you're talking about. I feel that, admittedly yes, I did not know a lot about wi-fi levels, you know, any of that before I worked here. I come from a completely different background of the arts and customer services. So this was completely new to me when i started in Virgin Media. But now that I have that knowledge, I feel like I’m almost responsible, to empower the people that are around me, and say,  it's not a man thing it's not, it's not a dude thing, you can do this as well. I can break it down so you can understand it in a way that you're going to know what I’m talking about, and then you've got that power in your hands to do whatever you want with it. So, I feel like we can really empower people and give them the courage and the, I don't know, just the self-belief, so they can go and feel like they can apply for things like this. It's getting your friends that you know, come on you can do this, and then they, and like Helen said they bring their friends, then their friends are empowered and then it's like an awesome kind of a safety net of support that you can, that you can apply. You can do it, and you can achieve. So, I feel like we we're kind of responsible you know, in a way, we're like at the forefront.

Sarah

Helen, did you want to come in.

Helen

You said something Stacy, which is a really important to me, and that, that message of when you talk to, when you go and talk to somebody about that, and they go, oh this is the man's job. One thing COVID has shown us, is that we will now be absolutely catapulted into that into that virtual world. There are so many women, girls, who do not have digital skills, because they never had to, or feel like they needed to. It's meant that that has opened up that gap even further. That digital skills gap has opened up even further. So there are you know, mothers who don't know how to do things online and they have to now, and so are behind on certain things. Boys are often given priority online over their siblings, over sisters, daughters. So again, they're not getting that access to education that they needed. So there is something in that, you know, how do we ensure that girls and boys, which you would expect have equal access, because there's not that equal access to technology. Which has been, you know, as i say out of COVID, it's become even more apparent.

Sarah

That a good point actually. Because like even like going back to me, my brother. He was always a digital person, I was like, kind of like Stacey, same backgrounds. I was always in a dance studio, where my brother was there building computers and stuff. So, there is that gap, and obviously now I am a digital comms person. So I have to have skills and stuff, but I know, I definitely think digital skills is a definite need. There is going to be a gap as we're moving into a digital age, and I think COVID, as you said, is highlighting that. Even to the point of work from home. People need to learn how to know how to use Outlook, Excel, Word. It's just general things now, it's not like a requirement, it's like you've just got to know it. I think that's a really important thing that people need to get across is digital, is the way you need to get your digital skills, and there is that gap for women sometimes.

Helen

I'd actually go as far as state it’s a human right, it's a human right to have digital access and digital skills. The digital access is definitely a human right.

Sarah

Definitely. Anna, if you've got any points you want to add?

Anna

I really agree with what Stacey had said about, sort of using networks and using, you know the advocacy of sort of personal experience to extend the reach and make sure we're actually getting to the right people. Because, you know, it's so easy to put an advert on LinkedIn or wherever, you put it and just you know you get the same kind of applicants. So, you, we need to think about ways to reach different types of people, to really get that representation across route panels, boards, everyone who's involved in the development process. I mean, we've made some progress. We got a recent female board appointee, who's coming from the STEM background. So we're really pleased about that. But , know much, more progress to be made, and I think you know, as Helen and Stacey said, that we've got to think of new ways to do that. To really reach the right people.

Sarah

Definitely. I think that's even one for me to take away is obviously, sometimes we do recruitment on social media, and it's like, maybe that for me I might need to speak to all the route panels, like okay, different route panels, where do you see adverts for stuff, and then we work with that route panel. Let's see how we can get that representation. So I'm going to write that one down for future reference. I definitely agree. I think there's definitely something around networking and going like, well what do you know like,  who do you speak to, who do you think is good, and tapping into that pool of people to get them representations on our panels, it is invaluable, and we need to do that, definitely. Okay then so kind of staying on the same subject of like making it more appealing for people. So how do you think we can make apprenticeships more appealing and attractive for women in particular, but obviously for everyone else. I know we have talked about it a little, bit but what specifically do we need to do. Should we go to Stacey, you're the most recent apprentice. What kind of made you choose to do an apprenticeship?

Stacey

Well like i said earlier, I like the time that it gave you to really, you could incorporate your study with your practical learning, so I really appreciate that time. So, i don't have a family of my own yet, so iI don't have kids. There is there was another apprentice on my team when I joined, and we were network apprentices from all over the UK. She was a mum, and I think she kind of really enjoyed being able to kind of get out into the field. Because we've always been out during COVID, so we are classed as key workers, so we have always been out at that time. We have obviously been as safe as possible doing that, because we've had to be able to keep people connected during this time of COVID. Obviously people have used it and required it more than ever. So, we've had to be able to maintain the network while this has all been going on, and improving it. Kind of doing all that stuff as well. There's a couple of kind of different factors as to as to kind of why she applied. She came from a background of like robotics and things like that. So, I think she always quite a, I think you don't need to be a particularly practical techie person. I think you just have to have that in our curiosity, asking questions and wanting to know how things work, and why, and things like that. but yeah, I'm sorry, I'm kind of trailed that.

Sarah

That’s really interesting, that appetite to learn. You don't necessarily have to go into sectors that you, like if that robotic thing is, like really, it's not a typical sector. If you've got that appetite to learn you can go into anything you really want. If you just want that drive to like, well I'm just a bit curious, like let me just find out, that's really interesting, I definitely was like that.

Stacey

So, there are transferable skills, that you're, you know that you are learning. So that's I guess the important thing. I don't know, I even thought, as Helen was kind of talking earlier, about how do we appeal. Maybe even, you know going into a toddler and baby class. Just making it, or you know maybe it'd be interesting to look at the the numbers of who go on to Instagram for example. Is it more women maybe we need to find where they go, and where they choose to spend their time online. Obviously you know, that's not to say that it's just women on there. I think maybe we really need to pick apart those niches, you know the clothes shops, nasty girl. Can we, you know advertise on their sites. I don't know, it would be good, because you never know whose curiosity you might spike. So, it's I think, it's very interesting to see how we can really get them. We want to get you come with us.

Sarah

We will find you, we will get to you. Definitely. So Anna have you got any thoughts?

Anna

 Yeah, I mean personally, from my experience, the best way to make people excited about apprenticeships is to bring out really enthusiastic apprentices, or recent apprentices, to talk about their experiences. Because, I mean, people like Stacey you know, if I had heard from Stacey when I was at school, I'd immediately be like, right this is an option, this is something I want to think about. It's quite hard to bring things to life that people don't know anything about. So if you have someone who's there he's doing it, he knows exactly what's going on, and can sell it. I think that's really important. I think we should, you know, we should make the most, the absolute most of our fantastic apprenticeship panel, and other networks of apprentices, to really help other people understand why they're so great.

Sarah

Stacy want to come back on that?

Stacey

 It's almost like if, you know when you were younger, if you did something just by yourself you're like, oh is this cool, and then it suddenly becomes cooler when you found out a student or a friend does it as well. You're like, oh well if they can do it, I can do that. So yeah, I completely agree Anna. It's if you see someone doing it, you think well she can do it and you know she's from Luton, and she went to my high school, and she went to my college. Okay and you can then try home, mom there was a girl at school, and she's done this, and now she's here and she drives a van and I can do that. So I just think it's like you said, it's, you want to see examples, and you want to see real life examples of people that are actually doing it, there then they're in the thick of it. So yeah, I think I completely agree. Someone that's obviously enthusiastic.Had my coffee this morning let me tell you. I just think it's, if you can see physically, see someone else doing it. It makes it okay because you know they're actually doing it. So yeah, that's, I like that kind of thought process. It's really nice.

Sarah

That is good. It's just showing that enthusiasm, that people need to see. I know so many apprentices I think pretty much every apprentice is so enthusiastic, and such an advocate for apprenticeships. So getting them in there, and be like amazing, this is great. Well Helen, you've got so many initiatives with getting people in there.

Helen

So yeah, so agree with what everyone says. If you can see it, you can be it. That's that old saying, so for sure. Enthusiastic apprentices do it every time. I do think, and see, that that girls are excited by different things, and so it's what an apprenticeship can give you. So I think it's that, and not all of our young girls are thinking about families, and we say that, we know, we're not you know,.probably not thinking about this right now. But the flexibility the learning on the job, they're not having you know the debt, the opportunity to try different things. Women tend to want to know the outputs. So boys will be like can I work with AI, you know they want to know if they're gonna get, they can they can do AI, or machine learning, or whatever it is. Whereas I think generally, not that girl's, not saying girls aren't excited about the technology as well. But I think they just have a broader view. So it's the technology, but it's all the other things the job can give you. I think you know, university, we can give an apprentice a degree apprenticeship, can give you everything that you get at university plus, plus, plus. Our apprentices are in a cohort. So it's just like being part of a university, we have societies, you know we have a freshers week, they can join societies, and they can even, lots of them live together. They choose to live together in a an apprentice house, as opposed to student house. But they're earning money and they can have a lifestyle. They know they're going to have a job, and they're in a really competitive position. So I think it's you know, it's that plus, plus, plus, that I think, it really attracts our female apprentices. If you've got female apprentices talking about what it brings for them, then that that's the icing on the cake, which is why we've got you know 49% hopefully 51% very soon, as I said again. I've said it enough times.

Sarah

You will get there, you will get there.

Stacey

Are you saying Helen that the apprentices are living off you know, M&S and the normal uni students are living off super noodles?

Helen

I'd actually go one step further. It may even be Waitrose.

Sarah

it's just great also, hearing you all speaking about this. So, we're coming to the end of our podcast now. So let's just kind of, no,, no we don't want it to end, it's such a good conversation. So just to kind of wrap it all up. So kind of like a one tip for each one of you. What would you say to women thinking about doing an apprenticeship? What's your one tip you want to say to them and let's go to Anna first.

Anna

I mean, I said do it. Absolutely do it. You know, talk to some former apprentices to find out which one is best for you. Because, you know, there's a huge choice out there, and they'll be the best place to advise you on which one is best for you. But there will definitely be one that's good for you.

Sarah

Definitely. Stacey.

Stacey

Don't ever doubt yourself. Don't ever think that you that you can't, even if it's a really technical role that's fine. You have the time to learn it, you know,  that's it, it's kind of what Anna said. Really just do it, go for it. Because I think for an apprenticeship, you have literally nothing to lose, and only to gain.

Sarah

That's really interesting. Just do it don't doubt yourself, you can't do it. Definitely a good thing, Helen.

Helen

I mean they've taken all the great ideas I’ve got nothing left to play now which is quite a feat i might add. I always say to, when I go and do work experience, or going to schools. I always say to young women is, be shameless, and talk to as many people as you can. So your parents, your parents friends. Anyone who's in that working environment. Because the more you know, the more of a picture you can build up of what it's like to work, in the work. Do work experience, because then you can learn what you, what you like, and you don't like. It is very, very difficult to be able to impart what an apprenticeship is like unless they can see it, hear it, talk to people who've done it. So yeah, build that network, talk to lots of people, go into offices that do apprenticeships. Most companies, like we do, will take people in for a day, or a work experience. So you can come and try before you buy, kind of thing. But as you know, as you've said, there is no loss. So a little bit of a slap around the chops for you Sarah. You didn't waste those two years, and even if someone came onto an apprenticeship, if they came on a Cisco apprenticeship, they did the three years, they got their degree. They didn't work as Cisco at the end, they have still got so much experience, they've learned so much about themselves. They've got you know, a step up and ahead of those who've just gone on to do a degree, and they've got a degree, and they've got no debt. So you know, why would you not do it, why would you not do it.

Sarah

These are all fantastic tips and we should just all be shouting about it. So, it was absolutely fantastic to hear all of you today. This conversation has been fantastic. It's been so empowering and enlightening. So just want to say a huge thank you for you all for joining me. It's been absolutely great to hear about all of your experiences, and most of all being open and honest with me. It's been absolutely great to hear. So, thanks for listening and look out for our next episode.

 

The Institute talks…about T Levels with Ashley and Daisy from HSDC

The Institute talks…about T Levels with Ashley and Daisy from HSDC

March 1, 2021

In this episode of The Insitute talks, we talk to Havant and South Downs College all about T Levels.

In the podcast, we are joined by Daisy, an education and childcare T Level student and Ashley, Assistant Principal Vocational Curriculum. They talk about their experiences over the last 6 months and how the coronavirus pandemic has affected them.

You can subscribe to The Institute talks podcast on Amazon MusicApple podcastSpotify and all other major podcast platforms.

Transcript

To follow.

The Institute talks…to Amelia Russell

The Institute talks…to Amelia Russell

February 12, 2021

Part of our apprentice panel podcasts, Jamilah Simpson our apprentice panel host interviews apprentice panel lead, Amelia Russell.

Amelia, 23, is currently completing her level 3 business administration apprenticeship at The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.

Transcript

Jamilah Simpson:

Hi, I'm Jamilah Simpson the Multiverse community programs and networks associate. I joined Multiverse early last year after completing my digital marketing qualification as an apprentice at Google. I'm also an apprentice panel member and your host for this podcast. Today we're joined by Amelia, Amelia did you want to quickly introduce yourself before we get started.

Amelia Russell:

My name is Amelia Russell, and I’m doing a business administration apprenticeship and I'm currently coming up to my end-point assessment, and I work at the Institute for Apprenticeships as a Governance and external affairs officer.

Jamilah Simpson:

So, Amelia, I was luckily able to finish my apprenticeship before COVID and lockdown hit. So I was able to stay in the office and do my EPA and finish all the coursework with the other apprentices who were also in my company. But I guess it's a little bit different for you because you're continuing to do your apprenticeship and we're still in a national lockdown. How has that whole process been, and has it affected in the approach to your EPA?

Amelia Russell:

It's been definitely challenging, because receiving that text message from work saying we were no longer allowed in the office, it was a bit of a shock. I thought it would only last about three weeks so. Since March 2020 I've had to do a lot of online learning myself, and having to meet virtually and not having the workshops. I did actually have a break in learning because I live with my nan, so I wanted to make sure that I was around to support her in the first few months of being in a lockdown. Having to do a lot of apprenticeship work, and trying to still get that on the job training and learning, and trying to shadow with the teams and work with other people. It's definitely been a challenge, but if you really want it to work, you know, you really got to put the effort in and make sure it works. Which is what I've tried to do, and I am leading up to my EPA, and I've been so excited, just to, you know, finish my apprenticeship, and to say, you know, I've finished it, and I did it. Even after a year in a pandemic and lockdown, and it's been a real struggle. But yeah, I would say I'm just going to keep pushing on with it, and fingers crossed I aim for that distinction.

Jamilah Simpson:

Yeah, like completely hats off to you. Because I like I'm in a full-time role not doing an apprenticeship as well, but I really struggled working from home. Especially when it first started, but the fact that you're doing your full-time role, plus your apprenticeship and now in the approach to your EPA, it's like I commend you.

Amelia Russell:

Thank you, it's very hard because usually in the office you just turn around and say, oh by the way how do I do this, and all I have is my bedroom door to turn around too. So, it's a very different environment to be learning in, and working in, so yeah it's a challenge, but we'll all get through it.

Jamilah Simpson:

Yeah. Well we have each other to get through it all we do

Amelia Russell:

We do

Jamilah Simpson:

I’m sure you will do amazingly. So I want to talk about apprenticeships for a little bit. So Amelia, you and I both know that apprenticeships aren't really the conventional route after finishing GCSE’s or A-levels. Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?

Amelia Russell:

So, my journey from school to being an apprentice has been a real challenge. Especially being a care leaver, and I knew I wanted to do an apprenticeship as I could get experience then a qualification, as well as earning a wage. After searching for such a long time, I found an apprenticeship come up at the Institute for Apprenticeships, and it was perfect. I could do an apprenticeship and still influence the world of education for anyone of any age and background. I decided to do an apprenticeship as well because after trying the university route, I felt like it wasn't for me, and I was studying adult nursing at the University of Northampton, and after doing it for a year I ended up absolutely hating it. Finding that it just wasn't for me, and it's something that I wanted to do as a career, but in the end, I felt like, you know working on the wards, and attending lectures, and studying, doing assignments, it was just really hard at times. That's why I decided to drop out at the end, and after that, I decided to work in a secondary school before this apprenticeship. Which really cemented more into me about getting the experience and choosing to go for an apprenticeship route and being passionate about education and apprenticeships.

Jamilah Simpson:

Wow, that sounds amazing. I kind of chose to do an apprenticeship as opposed to university because of the same reason. Because I enjoy like the practical learning environment, and you can't, well you can get that at university, but not as much as you can in an apprenticeship. Because you're actually in the workplace and applying your learning straight away, as you mentioned, so I can understand like, where you're coming from.

Amelia Russell:

It really shows how important on the job training is as well, with you know, you don't really get that with some university degrees as you can't really go and work and do both at the same time.

Jamilah Simpson:

Yeah definitely, definitely. You mentioned being passionate about like, the role of education, and creating an influence. Is there anything in particular that you enjoy working on? Especially as you're at the Institute?

Amelia Russell:

I think it's the apprentice panel most that I do enjoy working on. As I get to have a huge network of apprentices and get to work with all of them. As they all come from amazing backgrounds, and organisations. I think it's just really building up those relationships, and engaging with all these other people, that are just as passionate about them, is what I really enjoy the most. It's just having that communication and that creativity to work with them.

Jamilah Simpson:

Yeah definitely, and you do such an amazing job at managing the apprentice panel. With the meetings and making sure that all of the apprentices stay connected in between those meetings through your regular communications, and check-ins, I absolutely love that. What's it like being both on the panel but also leading it?

Amelia Russell:

That's a good question. I think, I did start off with being an apprentice panel member, and I did recently, in the summer of 2020, took over as being the apprentice panel co-organisational lead, and it's, I think it's, I get really, happy about having to work with all of these people. But I think leading them all and trying to navigate them to really push and challenge their views, or other people's views is something that I love as well. Because we've all come from different backgrounds, my views on how apprenticeships might work might be different to how yours might think they work. I think that's the joy of it, is getting that wealth of knowledge and experience from all the other members is what's so important to me. Also really contributing towards what's going to happen on the agenda, and what we can talk about. Especially recently with the board strategy, we've just supported for, and having pushing the other members to go and present to the board, and challenge them, and what we want apprenticeship to be like by 2023. I think that's the most amazing thing to happen recently, is being able to speak to the board members, as a panel, and push all of our views that we had in our January meeting forward.

Jamilah Simpson:

Yeah, it's quite an empowering experience isn't it, being on the panel, and I've learned so much since joining, just under a year ago. just speaking to all of the other apprentices, and finding out that about their experiences has been so, impactful, and eye-opening.

Amelia Russell:

Yeah, it definitely is, and even speaking to apprentices, like yourself, when we're working on the best practice guidance. Seeing what you're doing on it, and how other apprentice panel members of what they're doing, and the case studies that they're able to get. I think it's just, it's a brilliant way, to really, we're the final product, really, of apprenticeships. We have the most experience with them at the minute, so, what better way to use our experience than on the apprentice panel.

Jamilah Simpson:

Yeah, exactly. Whilst we're on the topic of the best practice guidance. I know that you're also working on this with us too. Can you tell me why you think the work that we're doing for it is so important?

Amelia Russell:

Yes of course. So the apprentice panel survey last year had actually brought to light a lot of issues, and we decided to come up with recommendations. So to develop this best practice guidance for apprentices, training providers, and employers. For it to act as a reference for quality, and apprenticeship delivery. I really want to set the bar high, and encourage others to aim for what apprentices everywhere should have, that gold star experience. So the reason why it's so important, is because the best practice guidance will not set the minimum requirements, but for the best practice of apprenticeships, and what makes an apprenticeship such high quality. But also it's a great way for people in apprenticeships to share their best way to support apprentices. So for example, their welfare, and what's the best way to prepare for an EPA. So I'm really keen to assure people that we're not on about minimum requirements. It's really the best practice, and when someone really looked after you as an apprentice, and how can we influence employers and training providers to use that.

Jamilah Simpson:

Yeah, and from what I've seen and heard, it seems like you've had a pretty great apprenticeship experience so far. Are there any specific highlights that you would like to mention?

Amelia Russell:

Yeah sure. There's been lots of highlights working Institute, it's really opened a lot of doors for me. One particular moment, is I’ve recently been promoted within my team. I've been really keen to pick up as much experience as possible in the Chief of Staff team where I work, and I was promoted back in October to do governance and external affairs. Before that, I did work on inquiries, and I think it was the best way to start, to really get to know all the other teams. So definitely, a promotion. There's been lots of opportunities. Like a Chinese delegation, and meeting all these professors from Beijing University. I could sit here all day and go through it with you. But yeah, there's been I think promotion, and also the Chinese delegation has been a highlight to me.

Jamilah Simpson:

Oh, congratulations on your promotion. I actually didn't know that, but amazing.

Amelia Russell:

Thank you

Jamilah Simpson:

So earlier you mentioned that you are a care leaver. Has an apprenticeship been the best route for you to take do you think?

Amelia Russell:

When you're a care leaver you can be very independent and rely on yourself, especially financially. So going to university and being a care leaver, there's not that financial support really for you. Whereas, if you're an apprentice, you're getting a qualification, and being able to get a living wage to support yourself, and that's been the best route for me. I don't know what I would do without an apprenticeship, and it's opened up so many doors, despite the background, and the challenging situations I've faced. So it's definitely been about the best route for me rather than university.

Jamilah Simpson:

Oh, I'm so glad to hear that. Do you have any plans for what you'd like to do after you finish your apprenticeship? Would you like to stay at the Institute, would you like to explore a different industry? Do you have any idea?

Amelia Russell:

Sure. I'd definitely say I would like to see myself progressing within civil service, and particularly the Institute. Because I love all the connections it has, and especially with the route panel members, and all the different trailblazers we work with to develop apprenticeships. It's somewhere where I do see my passion laying. Whether that's in the department or the Institute. I'd love to be able to take up a higher apprenticeship, but I'm still yet to decide that. But I definitely know I want to play a big role in supporting the development of high-quality apprenticeships.

Jamilah Simpson:

Oh wow. I was also like, really undecided about what I wanted to do after my apprenticeship. Luckily the job that I'm in now came up as an opportunity, like a month before my apprenticeship ended. I was thinking about doing a higher level apprenticeship, or just taking a break. But I think, yeah, like opportunities come when you.

Amelia Russell:

When you least expect them

Jamilah Simpson:

Yeah, I was trying to think of the phrase, but my mind just went completely blank.

Amelia Russell:

Do you have thoughts about any other apprenticeships that you would consider doing?

Jamilah Simpson:

I initially said, so before I wanted to do my digital marketing one. I wanted to do it based on, like, a purely creative industry. Because there's a little bit of creativity in digital marketing, but it's not fully creative. So yeah, I'm always keeping my eye out for any creative apprenticeships. I know there's not that many at the moment, so I'm hoping there'll be, like, a graphic design one, maybe in the future, that I could do. Because I've always been, like, I've always had a creative eye. So I want to really use my skills, but also gain a qualification in that. But, again, I'm not really sure, I just take each day as it comes really. I have a final question for you. Have you got any advice for people thinking about doing an apprenticeship?

Amelia Russell:

Yes, and I would just say go for it. It will be the best decision you'll make, and it was for me. Before you do go for an apprenticeship, I would say you should really research into the apprenticeship, and the organisation you're applying for. So you can really make sure that it's something that you're going to enjoy, and be passionate about, and really want to do. But definitely go for it.

Jamilah Simpson:

Yeah. I 100% agree with you. Cool. So that's all we have time for in today's episode. Thank you so much, Amelia, for taking the time to tell us about your apprenticeship experience and being so open and honest with me today. Thank you for listening in today and look out for our next episode, bye!

The Institute talks…to Joel Roach

The Institute talks…to Joel Roach

February 11, 2021

Part of our apprentice panel podcasts, Jamilah Simpson our apprentice panel host interviews member, Joel Roach.

Joel, 20, Is currently completing his chartered manager's degree apprenticeship at Microsoft.

Deciding that university wasn’t for him, Joel came across degree apprenticeships as a way of gaining the experience of the workplace but getting the degree at the same time.

Transcript

Jamilah Simpson

Hi, I'm Jamilah Simpson, the Multiverse community programmes and networks associate. I joined Multiverse early last year after completing my digital marketing qualification as an apprentice at Google. I'm also an apprentice panel member and your host for this podcast. Today we're joined by Joel. Joel, did you want to quickly intro yourself?

 

Joel Roach

Sure, hiya, I'm Joel. I'm doing a chartered managers degree apprenticeship at Microsoft's been doing it for a couple of years now and yeah like Jamilah I've been a member of the apprentice panel for about a year now.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Cool, so I think we joined around the same time on the panel. I joined around March, April last year.

 

Joel Roach

 Yeah, I think that sounds about right for me as well.

 

Jamilah Simpson

So your apprenticeship sounds really interesting. What made you decide to do a degree apprenticeship?

 

Joel Roach

Well before doing my apprenticeship I was at university so doing the apprenticeship was much more honestly as much more about leaving university than anything else. You know, I decided that uni wasn't for me. I wanted to get into work and sort of. Started getting on with, you know, gaining some skills and getting some experience. The degree of apprenticeship thing came about as sort of I was just exploring and seeing what was out there. Came across Microsoft's degree apprenticeship and it seemed like a great option to take that degree box whilst I was getting all my other experience.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Amazing and you briefly mentioned that you went to university for a year before. What made you change your mind and go down the apprenticeship route instead?

 

Joel Roach

Yeah so for me university wasn't like an amazing experience. You know it was an OK time. It was fun. Don't get me wrong. And I wanted to, you know, get a job afterwards and do real work, not study the subject for the rest of my life. So it didn't seem like I was getting much out of it, so I found it come across an apprenticeship and it just seemed like such a better option. Like by the time I sort of decided to do it, it just seems like such a no brainer really. You know, I wanted to be working. I wanted to be gaining real skills and applying the stuff I land in the real world. So yeah, it just seems like such an obvious decision to me by the time it got around to doing it.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Yeah, I'm the same. I didn't really want to like sit and listen to a lecturer for hours and hours on end. I kind of just wanted to get into working and even though I didn't really, I never had a job before my apprenticeship. I just knew that I wanted to get into the workplace, so it seems like we have similar like ways of thinking about why we choose an apprenticeship. Yeah, an Microsoft is a pretty big deal with global massive company. Did you always want to work at a company like Microsoft?

 

Joel Roach

So Microsoft came onto my radar because it was close to the town I was doing university and it was quite important to me that I sort of held onto those university friends and can sort of keep that life going without having to completely restart in the city, so that's sort of what brought onto my radar in the first place. In doing that, I was looking at graduate schemes and all sorts of things I could do after my degree, and then I came across the apprenticeship scheme and it was sort of like OK, why, why, wouldn't? Why wouldn't I start right now and then you know from that I start digging into Microsoft as a company a little bit more and exploring what those options were, and I was just so impressed with what I saw. There's a lot of tech companies out there at the moment which you know getting in the news for all the wrong reasons. I think Microsoft commitment, crust and ethics and transparency and reliability. All these good things were really a sort of refreshing thing to see from a big tech company. And you know, there's a huge amount they've done since I've started my apprenticeship around sustainability and all this good stuff. That's just kind of inspiring to see this big company using its resource is using its power to influence for the better. So yeah, big fan of Microsoft.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Sounds an amazing place to work. I'm just curious 'cause I worked at Google and that's also quite a big company. What was it like working at Microsoft? As an employee, whether a lot of employee benefits and what was your day today, kinda like?

 

Joel Roach

Can be a bit mixed. On the one hand, it can be, you know it's incredibly exciting. I think our talent leader is described as being like in a candy store. There's all these opportunities around you, there's hundreds and hundreds of people who are willing to help you support you, give you opportunities you know, give you stuff to do. And at a point, you've got to rain yourself in, then be like, OK? I need to just pick a few things that I really want to do. So it's just yeah, full of opportunities, which is amazing. It's quite, it's almost a bit of a shock at first. I think when you sort of get any you see, like the numbers and you see the sort of accounts these people are working on and it's like wow. This is like important stuff that's happening here and from the beginning, they don't. You know there's no, you know, being the tea and coffee guy, it's all sort of real work, right from the start, and it's sort of it's quite a lot of pressure and it's quite a lot of you know, quick adapting to the environment. But you know, I love that I, you know I joined. I joined the company because I wanted to do something real and impactful. And I certainly got given that chance.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Yeah, I know it can be quite overwhelming to go into such a big company and you kind of have senses of impostor syndrome because you think of yourself as just an apprentice. But really, you're there for a reason. And that's something that I learned. Throughout the first couple months of me starting that I was there for a reason and I was chosen to work in the team that I was working in, I'm assuming that you plan on progressing within Microsoft once you've finished your apprenticeship. Is there any like promise that you'll get a job after, like your stay in our role? Have you heard anything so far?

 

Joel Roach

So we don't have any guarantee of a role afterwards just because Microsoft such you know it's such a big company. There's only a limited number of roles available, and obviously, it's a very popular place to work. Well, it's with after sort of. Well, I'm there for four years and you meet people along the way that happy to support you in that in your career. Certainly, opportunities to move it to stick around at Microsoft, but at the same time, Microsoft. Part of our vast partner network and there's so many different connections, you can make a Microsoft different organisation. They're sort often very keen for us to explore different avenues and opportunities and see what's out there really, rather than being sort of stuck to that one place for the rest of our careers. So I've got two years left of my apprenticeship. I'm still figuring out what I want to do next, but I'm certainly going to have a good look around and see what's out there.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Yeah, two years. It's a long time to make any decisions, so you definitely got the time to think about it. Just curious, did you start your apprenticeship before the lockdown hit, the UK?

 

Joel Roach

Yeah yes. I've been there for two years now, so if you had a good amount of time in the office, I do feel for the apprentice started in the lockdown there, it's a tough way to join the company.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Yeah, how have you been coping with working from home for almost a year now, isn't it?

 

Joel Roach

Yeah, I mean as a company we adapted pretty quickly just because we were sort of used to doing flexible working and days at home. And things like that. But it was. It was obviously an adjustment for everyone. It's definitely I miss. I miss the change of scenery in the office and we had a few weeks when everything started easing up that we were sort of allowed back in, which is great. But you know, we've adapted we're getting on with it. We actually managed to deliver an amazing onboarding experience for our latest cohort of apprentices. All virtual. We had some amazing guest speakers for them and they will engage with that incredibly, so it's an adaptation, but it's sort of challenge. They were quite happy to rise too and see what we can come up with to sort of address these different needs.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Yeah, yeah, you mentioned onboarding in there. I'm interested to know what was your onboarding like when you first joined Microsoft as an apprentice.

 

Joel Roach

Yeah, so I mean, when onboarding is something at Microsoft that's really evolved over the last few years. So when I joined, we had a week of onboarding. We learn about the company, the culture, the values about the sort of journey that Microsoft being on 'cause. t's not always been this sort of credible company to work at in the past. It's been quite difficult, competitive internally and externally, but sort of. Lately, it's been a huge focus on growth mindset and working together as we learn a lot about that journey just to sort of understand where Microsoft is that now. So that was a really helpful thing to sort of learn about is that. You're not going to be expected o be this. Know it all. Who knows everything would be the smartest person in the room at all times. But you actually sort of more expected to be this learning or person who can walk into a room and ask 1000 questions and learn from every single one. And you know, learn from every mistake you make. I'll quite often say that like you know, as an apprentice, my job is to make mistakes and to screw it up and get it wrong. And if I learn from each time I do that, then I'm going to come out of it like so. Much better off. And in a really strong position in my career 'cause I have learned an absolute ton.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Yeah, when I was. Doing my apprenticeship. I was so scared to even ask questions if I didn't know something but I just kind of learn. I don't know everything and it's best if I learn from my team and the people around me. So you kind of had that advantage going into workplace as an apprentice your you can make those mistakes cool. So I just want to move on to the topic of the apprentice panel that we're both on. Why did you decide to join it?

 

Joel Roach

Well, I think as much as apprenticeship so amazing and a great opportunity. I think there's still a huge amount of work to reach their full potential. So I wanted to join because I really wanted to, you know, get in a room with these people that have this. You know, big influence and sort of a lot of power, in the apprenticeship community and really just challenge them to be aspirational about sort of the standard of apprenticeships that you know that they're delivering. You know, like just last week, I was able to deliver recommendations to the Institute's board about the new strategic plan where you encouraging them to include ethical practice in all of their apprenticeship standards in future. So, like any apprentice working with customers. Should you know, learn to accommodate the needs of someone with learning disabilities or, you know, learn how to use the pronouns for transgender binary folks and like this is the kind of thing that we really want to do. Push to be to get employees to think. OK, yes I want to fill these skills and sort of getting these employees, but what more can I do and what more can these people brings my organisation because apprentices have such a unique perspective of being completely new to the world of work quite often and just having this outside view that can actually really challenge these senior people. And I think if there's this audience that can listen and be open to it then you can have a huge impact as an apprentice.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Yeah, it sounds like you're clearly very passionate about like driving social change and continuing to improve apprentices and it can be quite daunting. But empowering, especially if you're like presenting to the board, but you know that you're making change, so that's the part that I really like about being on the apprentice panel, as well as just making change and seeing that outcome.

 

Joel Roach

Yeah, absolutely. And I think, you know, after a while you get used to the fact that these are just people like whether they like CEOs of these huge companies like they're just people. And it's OK to challenge them and question them and not take everything they say to be, you know, gospel.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Yeah, it's definitely a learning experience.

 

Joel Roach

Absolutely, I think it's also worth mentioning that. Sort of through Microsoft I've had some really incredible opportunities to go beyond my job role. So I sit on the Board of Microsoft, Microsoft UK LGBT plus community, which means I get some really amazing events that we've put on. So you know, just last year in December we did an event for trans awareness week where we had some trans employees talking about their experiences and seeing the employees sort of engage with it and respond to it is always incredible. Just last week we had the BBC's first LGBT plus correspondent. Join us for an event and. You know, again, we had over like 300 attendees all engaging with it or learning from it, talking about privilege and intersectionality which has just been amazing to see. And just having that opportunity is amazing. It's not something I never would have got if I hadn't had my apprenticeship to have this much sort of impact and learn from all these other people around me. So that's been a really incredible thing to do.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Wow, I think diversity, inclusion and wellbeing being are really important aspects for any company, but it sounds like the opportunities outside of your day-to-day role is absolutely amazing as well so. Wow.

 

 Joel Roach

yeah absolutely. I mean like as much as a company can talk about profit margins and making more money and growing and everything like that's great, but there's so much more work to do in the diversity and inclusion space in the wellbeing space like there's a huge amount of work still to do, and if we just sort of keep doing and keep pushing it then well then we will get there and I think apprentices with their new perspectives and with their outside views can. Can really make some real changes there.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Yeah, definitely is also reflected in our best practice handbook because wellbeing is actually one of the five sections that we're working on, so I think you're working on the onboarding part of it. Is that right?

 

Joel Roach

 Yeah, absolutely. So that sort of drawing on some experience. I've had a Microsoft 'cause our onboarding experience is sort of led by apprentices, for apprentices, so the last couple of years I've been part of a team that ran the onboarding process and we've evolved over that time to include things like, you know,  diversity and inclusion and wellbeing could be quite conscious that for a lot of apprentices it's not just onboarding into a company, it's onboarding into a whole career. So we're trying to figure out what foundations are going to set these people up to be really impactful.  Whatever organisation they end up in great, we want to have that impact at Microsoft, but you know, wherever they go in their careers, we want to have that really strong foundation of ethics and culture and sense of self and bring themselves to work that was really amazing to see an as far as the best practice guide goes, eventually leading back to your question. We hope that it's going to be you know, a high standard for employers and training provider to work towards. Because once you've got that sort of this thing to aspire to, you can see where you're at in that journey. You can always work back from it to say, OK, these are the steps we need to take to get to this sort of higher standard. Hopefully, that will really work to keep the quality of our apprenticeships, continuing to improve and really just challenging people to raise their standards.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Yeah, I'm really looking forward to seeing it all come together over the next few weeks and my company Multiverse were actually an apprenticeship training provider so will have like direct will be able to be impacted by it but also influence it as well with best practice case studies and stuff like that. So yeah, I'm just really excited by all its brilliant initiative that the panel is working on.

 

Joel Roach

I think yeah, absolutely well I think and I think we're going to do some of the same stuff with Microsoft taking what we've learned with the onboarding process and just sort of putting it in there as a case study of. Here's what you can do. And it works really well.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Yeah. and what do you want to achieve? Being on the apprentice panel, I think you kind of touched on it before, but like what's your top two goals? Let's say.

 

Joel Roach

I mean, I'd say number one goal. You sort of mentioned is that social change thing. You know, we've got 700,000 apprentices around the country all at like hundreds, even thousands of employers. If every single one of them can have the skills and the confidence to be able to speak up and have that impactful conversation about whether it's diversity and inclusion. Whether it's about wellbeing or just you know sustainability. For example, like if we can get every single apprentice in the country to do something good and influence up within their organisations, we can have a huge impact like across the country, which to me is like a really inspiring thought. Just like all these apprentices out there doing some good. But yeah, the other priority for me is making sure that apprentice voices are heard. As much as there's you know, 700,000 of us it can be quite scattered around the place. You know you've got apprentices that are the only apprentice at their employer. I've been in a quite fortunate position there's about 100 of us at Microsoft. You can sort of, you know, speak to each other and stuff, but I think if we can make an effort to reunify those voices and you know, like we've done with our survey last year and hopefully will do again with our survey, this year is just gather those perspectives of apprentices so that we can present them to the people with influence. Actually, this is what apprentices want. This is where apprentices aren't getting what they want and this is what they need and this is how we can make improvements. They're actually going to affect the lives of apprentices rather than just meeting the expectations of employers 'cause they're not always the same thing.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Yeah, so we're working, not just for like your personal apprenticeship experience, but also for the 700. Did you say 700,000 apprentices across the UK? That's an amazing number, didn't even know was that many. Ah, my final question to you Joel is have you got any advice, people thinking about doing an apprenticeship?

 

Joel Roach

 Just do it when in doubt do an apprenticeship you know, like I've tried the university thing, it wasn't for me. A lot of people, I think assume apprenticeships are of people who know exactly what they want to do and sort of really set career goal. But that's not the case at all I started my apprenticeship with no idea what I wanted to do. I just thought it seemed like a great opportunity. It seemed like a way out of university and over time I'm sort of figuring out the bits of work that really gives me energy. And you know, I really enjoyed doing so now through my apprenticeship, I'm narrowing down my options of what sort of jobs I want to go for. So if you have no idea what you want to do in an apprenticeship, if you have a great idea of what you want to do, pick an apprenticeship that fits that and follow that through and you'll be doing it much sooner than if you start university and have to wait three years. So give it a go. Get started do an apprenticeship.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Thank you. I really, when I was a student doing my A levels, I really needed that voice saying if you're not sure what you want to do in apprenticeship and don't go down the uni route just because everyone else is doing it because I felt that pressure of needing to do what everyone else is doing because my teacher wanted me to do it. My friend wanted me to do it, but luckily my family was supportive. In me doing an apprenticeship instead, so that's great words by the way, but thank you. That's all we have time for in today's episode. I want to say a huge thank you to our guest today Joel for taking the time to tell us about your apprenticeship experience and being so open and honest with me today. Thanks for listening and lookout for the next episode. Bye.

The Institute talks…to Nikki Greaves

The Institute talks…to Nikki Greaves

February 10, 2021

Part of our apprentice panel podcasts, Jamilah Simpson our apprentice panel host interviews member, Nikki Greaves.

 

Nikki Greaves, 20, is currently completing her level 5 laboratory science apprenticeship with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

 

Transcript

Jamilah Simpson:

Hi, I'm Jamilah Simpson the Multiverse Community Programs and Networks Associate. I joined Multiverse early last year after completing my digital marketing qualification as an apprentice at Google. I'm also an apprentice panel member and your host for this podcast. Today we're joined by Nikki. Nikki did you quickly want to intro yourself before we get started

Nikki Greaves:

Hi, I'm Nikki a laboratory science apprentice for GSK currently in my third year now.

Jamilah Simpson:

Thank you, Nikki, we're so glad to have you here today. So, I've got a few questions for you. Starting with, as we both chose the apprenticeship route, I think we can both agree that there are so many benefits to them. What drew you into your apprenticeship?

Nikki Greaves:

So it's weird actually, I knew in sixth form that I wanted to go into a sciencey kind of lab-based career, and I was actually really set on doing a Biomed kind of degree at uni. My school was very like forward at pushing us down the uni kind of route, and it was only one day when I was looking at the government website that I actually stumbled upon the GSK apprenticeship,  and I was actually really intrigued. Because probably like quite a few other people I just assumed that apprenticeships were like carpentry and plumbing. Obviously, that sounds really bad, but I really didn't have much of a clue of what apprenticeships actually were. So when I saw this advertisement basically being like you can have a degree and learn hands-on I was pretty much like wow, this is actually exactly what I want. Because obviously the whole sitting in lectures, and that's just not how I learn and I was actually really worried about that aspect of uni. So actually, getting a hands-on was so much better for me, so I applied immediately.

Jamilah Simpson:

I had the exact same reaction because I didn't have a lot of information about apprenticeships when I was at college either. When I found out that there's so many different industries that you can go in to, I got really excited. I actually found my apprenticeship through my mum, so similar to you, my school wasn't helpful at all.

Nikki Greaves:

I honestly didn't even know they existed like at all.

Jamilah Simpson:

So Nikki your apprenticeship sounds really, really interesting and I'd love to know more about what you do day-to-day.

Nikki Greaves:

So, the usual day for me consists of helping my team set up and run studies. Where we basically look at how different compounds work. So how they work in the body if they're going to the right places and doing what we want them to do basically. A particularly interesting project that I've been involved in, was working on an HIV project where we looked at the potential for a treatment to take place twice a year rather than the current treatment regime, which is administered monthly.

Jamilah Simpson:

Wow sounds like pretty important stuff. So as you know we've all been going through a really tough time over the past year as a nation. Being a laboratory scientist, have you had an opportunity to support with COVID- 19?

Nikki Greaves:

Unfortunately not. I would have absolutely loved to be involved, but my team and I have just had a lot of work that's ongoing. Like I have been in work as a key worker, but it hasn't been COVID involved. Although I have actually signed up to be a volunteer for the mass vaccinating and actually GSK like alongside the NHS organised that for some of the employees. So I'm doing that.

Jamilah Simpson:

That’s amazing. You mentioned that you're a key worker does that mean that you still go into your place of work?

Nikki Greaves:

Yeah, so pretty much throughout the lockdown we were going in on a like shift kind of pattern. So that obviously there's like a limited amount of people on-site, but yeah pretty much just working our way through it. Because obviously a lab base, I can't exactly work from home very much. As much as I try and say my coursework, I could get on with my coursework. But yeah I know we've just been doing shifts really.

Jamilah Simpson:

Well I can imagine that must be really difficult to go through

Nikki Greaves:

it's actually. I feel like it gives regularity to the days. It is a bit difficult to like, make a routine because sometimes you're called in last minute, or sometimes then you're not needed. So, that's probably the hardest bit, but other than that it's still nice to be able to talk to people other than my housemates, as much as I love them.

Jamilah Simpson:

Yeah, I really struggled to maintain that routine when I was working from home and I've recently started coming back into the office a few days a week. It's just nice to have that commute. It's something that I never thought that I'd miss having that commute in the morning and actually getting on a train. I really missed that during the first lockdown. So now I'm getting back into it it's just nice to have that distinction between work. So on to our next question. What would you like to do next after you've finished your apprenticeship?

Nikki Greaves:

So, I'm currently doing a level 5 apprenticeship. So I'm in my third year now, so hopefully, fingers crossed if all goes well, in August time I'll get my bioscience foundation degree. Then I'm hoping to basically stay on at GSK for another year and a bit, to get a level 6 apprenticeship, and get my full bachelor's degree, so hopefully that. As for after that I'm just hoping I can get a full-time job at GSK, and maybe explore different departments. Because I'm still not really sure what I want to particularly do. I think the science industry is so like varied, and so wide. I think there's just so much to explore still. So we'll have to see.

Jamilah Simpson:

I think it's amazing that you're thinking about going on to a level 6. I didn't even know that existed until a few weeks ago. The fact that you've also like kind of got a plan in place I really respect that. I'm not much of a planner I just like take things as it comes. I think I'm going to start definitely thinking about like the 5-year plan and the 10-year plan going forward.

Nikki Greaves:

I feel like I need to be more that. I'm too like plan it all, plan it all, I really need to kind of take things on the chin a bit more.

Jamilah Simpson:

We can help each other out we can balance. So we know that you're part of the apprentice panel, along with myself. Why did you decide to join the panel in the first place?

Nikki Greaves:

Well, I just think it's a great opportunity. I think being able to work with people, who are like-minded, who also have a passion for apprenticeships. I just think that was a great opportunity and it also gives me an opportunity to give maybe apprentices that don't have a voice, like a platform for them to speak out, and give their opinion. So, I just thought it was a great opportunity to have.

Jamilah Simpson:

It's quite an empowering experience, isn't it? Something that we're working on in the apprentice panel, is the best practice guidance for apprenticeships. I believe that you're in the induction process. Nikki, can you tell me why that part is so important?

Nikki Greaves:

I just feel like the induction of anything is just important. I mean like it's the part that sets you up. It's the part where you get told what to expect, and the experiences that you'll get, and what you'll learn. So I just really feel like a great induction can have such an impact, and it will really set you up for the rest of your apprenticeship.

Jamilah Simpson:

Yeah, definitely, I agree. Out of curiosity what was your induction process like?

Nikki Greaves:

So, I went on-site, like a month before, and it didn't go very well. I actually was so nervous the night before that I didn't sleep very well. Then in the morning, because I lived quite far away, and I actually commuted in the morning. It was like an hour drive, so I had barely eaten, like a banana, so and then I had a really long journey. So I was absolutely knackered, and I actually fainted.

Jamilah Simpson:

Oh my god, that’s awful.

Nikki Greaves:

As it was it was, actually quite good. On my first day, because it kind of was an ice breaker. I was like the girl that fainted if you remember me. So, it kind of worked out in the end. As embarrassing as it was.

Jamilah Simpson:

Oh wow, that sounds very intense. By being on the apprentice panel what do you want to achieve?

Nikki Greaves:

Well, like I said, just to have a platform for apprentices to raise their opinions. Also, to just help with improving the overall apprentice experience. I feel like there's such a range of different experiences, and I feel like making that all like merge, and all actually go together, so that everyone has similar experiences. I think that all that's a really good thing to work towards.

Jamilah Simpson:

Definitely. I 100% agree. Finally, you briefly mentioned the fact that you didn't really have support from school when you were looking for your apprenticeship, and you were quite surprised when you found out the opportunity that you're in now. Have you got any advice for people thinking about doing an apprenticeship?

Nikki Greaves:

Yeah, so I would just say explore apprenticeships online, on government websites, there's just so many actually available that people don't realise. So I just say do your research. It's a really great alternative to university, you get to network with so many professionals in your field. I just feel like it opens so many doors. So I just say go for it, research it, apply.

Jamilah Simpson:

Yeah, I think we both have, like biased opinions, because we both, like you're on an apprenticeship at the moment, and I've completed mine last year. So we only have like good things to say about apprenticeships. But I definitely agree with your point about research and making sure that you know what you're getting yourself into before you actually commit. So, thank you. That's all we have time for in today's episode. I want to say a huge thank you to our guest Nikki for taking the time to tell us about your apprenticeship experience and being so open and honest with me today. Thanks for listening, and look out for our next episode. Bye.

The Institute talks…to Amy Marren

The Institute talks…to Amy Marren

February 9, 2021

Part of our apprentice panel podcasts, Jamilah Simpson our apprentice panel host interviews new member, Amy Marren.

Amy, 22, is a level 7 solicitor apprentice at BPP. She is also a double Paralympic swimmer, competing in the last two Paralympic Games, winning a bronze medal at Rio.

Transcript

Jamilah Simpson

Hi, I'm Jamilah Simpson, the Multiverse community programmes and networks associate. I joined Multiverse early last year after completing my digital marketing qualification as an apprentice at Google. I'm also an apprentice panel member and your host for this podcast. Today we're joined by Amy. Amy, did you want to tell us a little bit about yourself before we get started?

 

Amy Marren

Hello, my name is Amy Marren. I am a Level 7 solicitor apprentice. I work in house at BPP as well as studying with BPP. I'm also retired, double Paralympic swimmer. Just add things to the mix a little bit. I've been in my role now well I've been at BPP now since February 2017. So well established and enjoy myself too.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Wow level 7. That's absolutely amazing. What drew you into an apprenticeship?

 

Amy Marren

So, I think my apprenticeship journey, so to speak, hasn't really been as straightforward as me just deciding one day that I wanted to do an apprenticeship. So, I finished my A levels in the June of 2016, and I went to sixth form school. So, I think with sixth form schools there's quite a big push towards going to university. So, for me I thought that was really the only options, and actually I followed the course and I started at a university in September of 2016, after coming back from Rio. Um so fair to say there's a fair bit of my plate at that point and decided that the university life really wasn't for me. Um, so I made the decision to leave and started applying for apprenticeships in the January of 2017. Wasn't 100% sure on the industry that I wanted to be in, but what really appealed to me was the whole dynamics of working and studying at the same time. I think I'm much more of a practical, hands-on person, so the experience I get of learning alongside established, people in that industry so professionals, I think is invaluable.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Aw, that's good. At least you had like the experience of going to university, realised that wasn't really for you. And then you went to apprenticeships and now you are really enjoying it. I'm assuming so, you found your niche.

 

Amy Marren

I found my niche that's a nice way to put it I like, I feel like I need that on a T shirt.

 

Jamilah Simpson

I can send you a T shirt with that printed on.

 

Amy Marren

Yeah, that be great. I’ll love that parade that round the streets, go to the next panel meetings with it on. I'd love it.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Be amazing. So, I'm really interested to know more about your solicitors apprenticeship and like anyone listening and myself I don't fully understand what a solicitors job is so could you explain what is involved in your solicitors apprenticeship?

 

Amy Marren

So to give you bit of background. This is just solicitors apprenticeship and the paralegal apprenticeships were introduced just to make the industry and the whole world of law a little bit more accessible to people. I think it's quite an old fashion industry that there's just it's viewed there's just one normal route, so you do your law degree. You do your legal practice course. 2 year training contract and then you'd fall into a job hopefully at the end of it. So my apprenticeship is basically all of those levels and all of those exams, and that whole process just condensed into one big program with the intention of sitting the solicitors qualifying exam at the end, which again is another thing that's been introduced just to make the industry that little more accessible to everyone. I think it's really cool that they're doing that now. It's nice to know that you're part of this new dynamic workforce that is going to bring a bit of a change. So, like I said, combining that practical aspect with the academic aspect. My day-to-day role, I'm in house, so it might very little bit depending than if you're in private practice or in house, so I will do simple document reviews, document comparisons. I do a lot of international expansion work. I do data protection mostly day-to-day, so it really, really varies across. And I mean it will vary from like I said, drafting or reviewing documents to potentially giving advice to the business and anywhere in between. So it's a really, really wide scope that I work alongside, but I think that's the beauty of being an apprentice. Apprentice is that I'm not just isolated to that one aspect and I am learning everything I'm learning in my studying, I'm also learning within the workplace and the two are coming together quite nicely.

 

 Jamilah Simpson

Wow, it sounds it does sound like you're involved in a lot of things and like you said, that's great for you because you can kind of dip your toes in different areas and see which ones you like best.

 

Amy Marren

That's what I did, but I think being a young person will have that fear that you don't want to make the decisions too quickly and decide your life before you're ready. So it's quite nice. Like you said, just dip in and out and see. Actually, that does interest me, and actually that one doesn't interest me so much.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Yeah, so interesting. I love hearing about apprenticeships in industries that I didn't think would offer an apprenticeship and I didn't know that a solicitor apprenticeship, for example was a thing before speaking to you today. So thank you.

 

Amy Marren

I mean, I think that's so cool being part of the panel as well is that I didn't think that half of the apprenticeships exist on the panel ever existed. I only thought it was really sort the really traditional industries that you have, but it's so great to see that apprenticeships are coming so far, and I think the stigma is kind of coming away from an apprentice as well.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Yeah, definitely. I kind of had that stigma before I did my apprenticeship.  Are all apprenticeships are in construction or engineering, or like really hands-on fields, but the fact that you can be in an office and being apprentice I didn't know until I started mine in 2018, so it's absolutely amazing and we've come a long way definitely over the last few years.

 

Amy Marren

We're doing it together, team, we're doing it together.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Cool. Do you have any plans of what you'd like to do when you finish your apprenticeship?

 

Amy Marren

So I am only actually my third year at the moment, so I've still got quite a long way ahead of me. I suppose I'm quite lucky in that my apprenticeship as soon as I finish it, my view would be to be a qualified solicitor. I'm going to practice, um, I'm still too early on to decide whether or not that will be private practice in a firm, or whether I'd like to stay in house and stay at a company, but I'm really lucky that the company that I work for, BPP. They're really supportive of sort of my vision of what I want to do, so they took me on as a paralegal apprentice. And they sort of felt the waters a little bit and see if I and so if I wanted to be solicitors apprentice first of all. So I'm very well supported so I know the next direction I do go in you know I'll be looked after and I will get to that in goal, hopefully.

 

Jamilah Simpson

And can I just ask how long is your whole apprenticeship lasting for?

 

Amy Marren

So the standards solicitors apprenticeship is just six years because I did the yeah it's long. It's long so because I did my paralegal that was two years and but it also means I get an exemption year for the solicitor. So all in all both of them will be 7 years together so. It's definitely in it for the long haul, and I think I'm glad that I did that paralegal apprenticeship in hindsight, because I know that I definitely had an interest in what I'm in now, I think it would have been very, very difficult to day one and turn up and think this is life for the next six years. So it's quite nice to have that break between the two.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Yeah, I guess it was kind of like a trial run before you fully committed to it.

 

Amy Marren

Yeah, definitely, yeah. And I was really, really lucky that like I said, I've been really well supportive and I'm enjoying both. I've enjoyed my first apprenticeship. I'm enjoying my second so. It’s exciting.

 

Jamilah Simpson

It is exciting I’m excited for you. Cool, so earlier on you mentioned that you were a Paralympian. Can you tell me a bit more like have you won any medals? What did you do?

 

Amy Marren

Yes, so I actually went to two Paralympic Games, so I competed in London 2012 and Rio 2016. The whole idea of being a Paralympian isn't just, you know, you perform once every four years. It's actually a four-year cycle. So in between those Paralympics we'd have British Championships, we have European Championships, World Championships, so it's a constant rolling of competitions. Um, I know without sounding too big headed, I'd like to say I was successful. So um, I was two times European champion. I was four times World Champion and I won a bronze medal in Rio. So to me that to me there big achievements. You know it's a very very personal thing. Um, lots and highs and lows in between that. But I know that. I'm retiring in February last year was definitely the right decision for me. I loved my time competing, wouldn't have taken it back for the world, really. I mean, I got to travel all over the place. I've got friends in every corner of the planet that I don't think I ever would have had if I hadn't had that opportunity to compete. So yeah. Very, very, very grateful, but also kind of relieved that that chapters done now. And I'm on this new chapter of being a young professional. So yeah, bit of a switch I keep saying to myself, I just must not like an easy life. Like why am I not just happy and content? Just sitting doing nothing. But yeah, I really enjoyed my sporting career and it's quite nice. Look backward and tell people about my achievements. I guess I think you don't often get the opportunity when you're a sports person and you know I've kind of explained about that four-year cycle. You don't often get the opportunity to sit back and appreciate what you have achieved, so it's nice to be able to talk to someone new and so actually I did this.

 

Jamilah Simpson

I mean everyone loves a challenge, right? And I think there's no way you are being big headed at all because there's a pretty big achievements and you should be really proud of yourself again.

 

Amy Marren

Yeah, I appreciate it. I feel like everyone's got their own achievements that they hold dear. So yeah, those are definitely mine. Some days it's just getting out of bed in the morning. This whole lockdown life. You know what it's like some days just getting out of bed in the morning's achievement in itself.

 

Jamilah Simpson

It’s not easy, is it? Say you are one of our newest recruits on the apprentice panel and I'm interested what made you apply to join the panel.

 

Amy Marren

So there's a few different reasons I actually first came aware of the apprentice panel through LinkedIn, so I think LinkedIn is kind of like the corporate Facebook, right? So you're just scrolling through and I was going through on the train and it just caught my eye and I thought you know what? I've enjoyed my apprenticeships so much and I'm on my second apprenticeship now and I just really, really love to give my input on my experiences and just see apprenticeships go even further like it's, I think because I've got so much from my apprenticeships. It made sense for me to want to give back to more. I also have one hand, so the fact that I could give a sort the disability aspect to the panel, I think really interested me because as well as the stigma around apprenticeships, I think there's also a stigma around disabled people in the workplace. So if I could represent both sides of that and talk about something that I'm really, really passionate about it or just kind of made sense, and I've seen a few of the other apprentices that are on the panel too. I've read their bios and stuff and it's nice to know that in the background one we've all got that mission that all we want to do is just make apprenticeships better. Yeah, and they were my reasons.

 

Jamilah Simpson

I just hearing you talk about that now I can like really hear the passion that you have.

 

Amy Marren

Yeah, I think it’s important like education isn't just a one size fits all approach which you know. I kind of thought it was. I thought to be successful you had to go to university and you had to get a degree never even entertain the thought of possibly getting a degree in other ways. So the fact that I've found now found that way. I kind of want to tell people about it all the time and I go to a fair and I go to fairs and all this kind of stuff and I'm like no like considering an apprenticeship. Don't just think you've got to do this, you will learn so much just by looking into it.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Yeah, I used to do the same when I was doing my apprenticeship. I went to lots of well whilst we could in person I went to lots of schools and assemblies and careers fairs and not even from my satisfaction of like sharing my experience. But just telling young people about apprenticeships because they don't have that support mostly in saying I agree that being that voice is just.

 

Amy Marren

Do you think sorry? Do you think you've seen a shift in the approach to apprenticeships over the last few years?

 

Jamilah Simpson

Yeah, definitely. I went back to my college a few times and when I was a student there, there was no support whatsoever for apprenticeship. It was all uni, uni, uni, but since going back the first time they now do a whole fair on apprenticeships and they invite lots of people back. It’s amazing to see.

 

Amy Marren

It's so so nice. And I'm glad that you've had a similar experience to me. I just I honestly just want to shout about apprenticeships from the rooftops, but I think they can bring so much to the right person.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Yeah, definitely. And on what the topic of the apprentice panel? What do you want to achieve by being on it?

 

Amy Marren

So in terms of achievement, I think initially I'd like to feel nice and settled within the panel. I would definitely like to get to know the panel members better. I think the opportunity that we've been given to ask the Minister questions is actually quite special, so hopefully from that I'm looking to, well, have my question answered, which would be quite nice and also just explore a little bit more about the panel on the way it works I suppose my biggest achievement that I'd like to get to would just get apprenticeships to a place where there's not a stigma around them. Um, apprenticeships are well known. People know how to look into getting an apprenticeship, and questions can just be answered. I guess I wouldn't say it's a personal goal I'd say it's more of a collaborative team effort from the panel.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Yeah, I joined the apprentice panel around March last year and I haven't actually been able to meet anyone in person yet. It's all been through. Because I've lock down, but because we work quite closely together, especially now with the best practices handbook I've been able to get to know some of them quite nicely. And we've built up a connection already and I'm hoping that we can all meet sometime soon. That'll be really nice.

 

Amy Marren

I think so, and I think I don't know if you have the same experience, but I'm the only apprentice in my team, so sometimes I think as an apprentice because you're studying independently, and you know you go to work and you're part of a team there. You can feel quite isolated, so it's nice to be in touch with people that are either on the same program as you or are an apprentice themselves and it's definitely not an easy path to take. So I think the more people that are like you can surround yourself with the better off you'll be for it.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Yeah, I agree. I mean, I was in a cohort in my company with 14 other apprentices, so I was lucky to have that internal network, but it's been amazing meeting other apprentices who do different levels, different industries, different qualifications because I wouldn't have known about them if I didn't join the panel.

 

Amy Marren

Yeah, definitely that's really. You got me all excited now. Now I can't wait to meet people.

 

Jamilah Simpson

I'm sure you'll have the chance to over the next few months, definitely. And my final question to you, Amy is have you got any advice for people thinking about doing an apprenticeship?

 

Amy Marren

My best piece of advice for anyone that's considering an apprenticeship would be make sure you do your research on all of the available apprenticeships out there. So, like I said, for me, I wasn't 100% certain the industry I kind of had an idea, but it wasn't set in stone. I used the government website a lot and me and my mum had countless evenings where we sat down and tried to sift through. So I would say maybe find an interest first of all, and that's probably the best starting point. From that interest, maybe identify things you're good at. The things you're not so good at, and also the effort you're willing to put in. I cannot stress that it's not an easy route, that's not apprenticeships are, you know, they are very, very tough in terms of so you have to be independent with everything that you do. So those were well. I said one piece of advice, but that's probably a lot contained in one. So definitely be sure of what you'd like to do and your interest and kind of go from there. I don't think you can always rule out an apprenticeship over university is probably the biggest learning curve that I've had.

 

Jamilah Simpson

I love that I would have probably said the exact same thing in terms of advice because you thrive in doing what you love. Find your passion and then build it on that.

 

Amy Marren

And even if you don't have a passion like just try and dig deep, I'm sure there's something that would spark your interest. I knew that I was interested in law at GCSE level. Um, so I kind of went very very back to basics. In terms of that career choice, but it might be something that you know you stumble on in your free time. It might be part of a newspaper that you are more intrigued to read in that kind of stuff, so sometimes it's not always going to hit you in the face, but that passion will be there.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Definitely, well thank you, Amy. That's all we have time for in today's episode I want to say a huge thank you to Amy again taking her time. You're welcome for taking the time to tell us about your apprenticeship experience and being so open and honest and inspiring today. Thank you.

 

Amy Marren

I appreciate it. Thanks so much.

 

Jamilah Simpson

Thank you for listening and look out for the next episode. Bye!

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