Apprenticeships and Skills Minister celebrates National Apprenticeship Week

Anne Milton sees for herself the opportunities apprenticeships can bring

To mark National Apprenticeship Week (5 – 9 March), Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton took part in a tour across England to meet apprentices, local businesses, schools and colleges to talk about the benefits of apprenticeships.

National Apprenticeship Week is an annual campaign co-ordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service to promote and celebrate apprenticeships. On the tour the Minister saw first-hand the benefits that apprenticeships are bringing to employers, and also heard from apprentices about how apprenticeships are transforming their lives.

Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton said:

"This National Apprenticeship Week I’ve travelled to Manchester, Leeds, London, York and Gloucester and have heard incredibly inspiring stories from apprentices working across a huge range of sectors and at all levels.

"And from such different backgrounds - women with children returning to part-time work doing degree apprenticeships, people who started university and decided it wasn’t for them, and young people who didn’t do well at school but for whom an apprenticeship has opened a new world of work and learning, building not only their skill but also their confidence and self-esteem.

"I’ve also met businesses and employers in the retail, agricultural, banking and digital sectors who are really positive about the benefits taking on apprentices can bring them. Many of them have already kicked off new apprenticeship programmes following the introduction of the apprenticeship levy last year and I’m excited to see where these go - and to see more businesses take advantage of this chance to invest in training and see their business grow.

"All of these stories show that apprenticeships change lives, lead to rewarding jobs, and change businesses for the better. National Apprenticeship Week may be over for this year but every week needs to be about apprentices. We will continue to make sure everyone knows how amazing apprenticeships can be. Whatever your background and wherever you come from they change lives and change business for the better."

More details about the Minister’s visits

On Monday 5 March Minister Milton visited employers and schools in Manchester. She met with food manufacturing apprentices at Kellogg’s head office to hear from them about their experiences and to taste test breakfast products. She also met with staff, apprentices and students at St Ambrose Barlow RC High and Sixth Form in Greater Manchester as part of the National Apprenticeship Week #10ktalk campaign - which aimed to speak to 10,000 people about the opportunities apprenticeships can offer. Over 300 schools joined in the campaign, and reached over 33,500 people with stories about apprenticeships.

Later that day she then attended an apprentice roundtable hosted by WhiteHat, a company which matches talented non-graduates with apprenticeships in companies including Google and Just Eat.

This was followed by a visit to Leeds on Tuesday 6 March for an ‘Apprenticeships Work’ business forum, hosted by the Northern Powerhouse and the Yorkshire Building Society, targeting non-engaged businesses with apprenticeships messaging. The Minister gave a speech on why apprenticeships work for the wider economy. She then visited ASDA’s head office in Leeds where she met a group of newly recruited higher level and degree apprentices working in the retailer’s IT and food science teams, and to hear about how the newly developed courses are helping women build their careers in STEM.

Later on she also visited Askham Bryan College in York, which specialises in land-based education and has more than 800 apprentices studying a range of subjects including veterinary nursing, agriculture and land-based engineering. The Minister met students and staff busy with lambing, visited the Agri-Tech building to meet engineering students and saw students caring for a range of species including snakes and bearded dragons in the Animal Management Centre.

On Wednesday 7 March the Minister celebrated the first anniversary of the Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network and met apprentices from the Royal Mail. On Thursday 8 March she spoke at an event held at the National Gallery to celebrate the positive impact of female apprentices in the workplace on International Woman’s Day.

Finally, she travelled to Gloucester and spoke to staff and apprentices at Gloucestershire College, presenting them with the Association of Colleges Beacon Award for the Promotion and Delivery of Successful Apprenticeships. This was followed by a tour of the college during which she met engineering apprentices, as well as a visit to the Festival of Manufacturing and Engineering Apprenticeship Show.