Banging the drum of apprenticeships - Chichester Observer

Last Friday Year 6 pupils across the district found out which secondary schools they will be starting in September. This caused much excitement during my visit to East Wittering Primary School where I was treated to not only a tour but a three-part harmony choir performance sung by the whole school. I also had the opportunity to talk to Year 6’s about their move to senior school and all the experiences this will bring. They all seemed really pleased with their choices and we are very fortunate to have some wonderful schools in our District, with most East Wittering pupils going to Chichester High School, Bishop Luffa or Chichester Free School, all rated good or outstanding by Ofsted.  

Like all children making the move in September they will have access to the opportunity to broaden the range of subjects they learn and take advantage of the wide range of excellent facilities at our secondary schools. These will enable each child to develop the resilience and skills they need to go onto further education and into the workplace. Events have been taking place in Westminster and across the country this week to celebrate apprentices and like many I’ll be championing this career route. As the only degree level apprentice in the House of Commons I was delighted to recently be appointed a national Apprenticeship Ambassador, and on Monday I visited the University of East London to tour their state of the art ‘Knowledge Dock’.

The Dock is a collaborative business and teaching hub with the latest technology in engineering, robotics, digital technology and manufacturing which degree level apprentices use to complete the academic element of their qualification. One student I met was using computer modelling to anticipate the impact of climate change to protect vulnerable communities in Nepal, whilst another was researching the next generation of building materials to prevent tragedies such as bridge or building collapses. Having visited Chichester University’s Tech Park, I know it offers the same first-class education to its degree level apprenticeships, which focuses particularly on animation and film production thanks to their state of the art digital facilities. 

The phrase I’ve heard to describe degree apprenticeships this week is “career accelerator”. There really is no substitute for work experience, and degree apprenticeships can provide not only unrivalled exposure to the business world but a salary and degree too. They are a great opportunity for young people, there are just not enough of them. Whether it’s National Apprenticeship Week or not, I will continue to bang the drum for more high quality, high level apprenticeship places to be available across the whole country.