National Apprenticeship Week

Mrs Lowe, Head of Careers, reflects on a week highlighting Apprenticeship as a route into work  

Last week BGS celebrated National Apprenticeship Week, Careers Week and on Friday 8th March International Women’s Day. Many activities and events took place to allow our students exploration of all options for life after school.

We supported National Apprenticeship Week (#NAW2019) in a number of ways: Lunchbox Lectures dedicated to the apprenticeship route, our Law Lunchbox Lecture on Wednesday included information on Law apprenticeships. We welcomed back 2018 leaver Alice Pinney, who is in her first year as a graduate apprenticeship in civil engineering. Alice emphasised how a degree apprenticeship is a partnership between you, the company and the university, and that it gave her wider opportunities to learn from experts, to work independent and to build an effective skill set. She felt these would give her an advantage over graduates coming straight from university.

11 Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) speakers came in on Friday to run a science lesson for Year 11; talks in assemblies to Years 8 and 9 and a mini careers fair during lunch where girls received one to one guidance on a variety of careers including Senior Communications Business Partner, Deputy Environmental Manager, HR, and Engineers.

The Assembly Hall was filled with fantastic energy and motivation for the science lesson, which involved a personality careers quiz, and a problem solving engineering challenge. The girls were very engaged and challenged by the activities as Year 11 student Ase Afonja explained: “I found the session very useful, I liked how I had to work and communicate with people in my group even though none of them are in my regular friendship group. I found the quiz very interesting as it forced me to really reflect on the kind of person I am.

Mariam Hill agreed “The activities opened my mind on future careers. My skills were tested when I tried to build a bridge out of paper and paperclips, it made me consider a career in civil engineering.”

Kim Thomson a WISE Careers Advisor from Kier fed back after the day:

Attending Bedford Girls’ School for International Women’s Day was a great opportunity for us to speak with young women about careers in the built environment. The students were all really engaged in the conversations, and spoke very eloquently about their future career plans. We ran several sessions throughout the day, including a ‘bridge build’ activity and one to one career conversations which provided an opportunity for us to engage with students on a more personal level to discuss the industry and the breadth of roles available to them.”

Year 11 student Millie David was thankful for the opportunity to spent time with the group from Keir: “I found the personality quiz, very helpful, as it brought more career options to my attention that I had not previously considered. Furthermore, the bridge building exercise was both fun and competitive as it required team work and communication. Also, the Kier team did not hesitate to help and were very approachable.”

The government describes apprenticeships as ‘bringing together the best of higher and vocational education’ and as more apprenticeships become available, many students are finding themselves tempted away from university by the triple-stack promise of no fees, recognised qualifications and workplace experience.  By 2020, there will be estimated three million apprenticeships available in the UK, many offering starting salaries of £25,000-£35,000 per annum, significantly higher than the average university graduate starting salary. Just this week Amazon announced it is launching 1,000 new apprenticeships covering nine different programmes. A growing number of our Upper Sixth Leavers have taken the apprentice route with companies as diverse as Pearson Business College for Business Admin Degree and Kier Group for Civil Engineering.  For many it is a fast track path to career progression in a field that they are passionate about.

We also encourage the girls to continue with independent research after the week, through online tools available from both National Apprenticeship Service and Amazing Apprenticeships.  The National Apprenticeship Service offers a central apprenticeship vacancy system called Find an Apprenticeship. It is free of charge to use, by going on to the website and setting up an account you are able to search for a full range of apprenticeships, set up notifications and apply online for jobs.

Whichever route the girls are keen to explore we are here to engage, support and encourage them to think holistically and carefully about the next steps.

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