On Friday 23rd January 2015 we invited Mark Garnier, MP for the Wyre Forest to visit The Community Housing Group offices.
Evie, Richard and I interviewed Mark and we discussed our thoughts, opinions and any questions we had on Apprenticeships Programmes throughout the local area.
Here are the questions we asked him:
Abbey: Do you think there is enough awareness of apprenticeships in the local area?
Mark: I think there is a huge amount of awareness within the community but not at street level. Apprenticeships have developed a lot over the years and are now taken more seriously. I have to admit I was slightly sceptical about the sudden uproar about apprenticeships a few years ago, but I was happy to be proved wrong.
Richard: What do you think could happen to improve awareness of apprenticeships?
Mark: It’s not just about the level of awareness; it’s also about people having the correct understanding of what an apprenticeship actually is. More people need to be conscious of the fact that apprenticeships have developed and changed significantly over the years. If someone is looking at joining an apprenticeship programme and receives advice from people who don’t have the right knowledge and understanding of the new programmes, then it could be bad advice. Apprenticeships need to be talked about more and that it’s not just about ‘a bloke passing another bloke a spanner’ it really is a great opportunity to learn and develop new useful skills.
Evie: At school we were told that going to university was the only way to get a good job and we were told not to do an apprenticeship as we would end up on ‘the dole’. Why do you think some schools are not promoting apprenticeships as an alternative option to higher education?
Mark: The problem with higher education is that they are selling you a product. Schools get caught up in selling the idea of university as the only option of higher education, but it’s not. Unless you need a specific degree to hold a career such as a Doctor or Architecture, then there are many other opportunities that are available to enable you to step into the career path you want. Money is a huge point to consider; the benefit of an apprenticeship is that the cost of training is covered by the employer and you are paid whilst you are training. The downside to university is the cost; the tuition fees are expensive and you also have to factor in living costs. Schools need to advertise that there are other options available. Success stories of people joining apprenticeships programmes should be just as available as university success stories.
Abbey: What are you doing to raise awareness of apprenticeships within the community?
I am very optimistic about this generation; you have a lot more drive! I have held meetings with the ambassador of Kidderminster College and I’m trying to develop further opportunities for apprenticeships. I would also like to write to schools in the local area to discuss them providing school pupils with case studies of apprenticeships as well as the current university success stories they provide.
Richard: Most apprenticeships require a good standard of Maths and English. What is happening to ensure that school pupils leave with these qualifications?
Mark: There is a massive emphasis on these ‘basic skills’ and there are arguments that the pressure of gaining these important skills detract from some people being able to perform so well in different skills they may be good at. However, to an extent, people need these skills to get on in life. They need to leave school with these ‘basic skills’ to ensure that it doesn’t become an issue in later life. Up until now, pupils have been able to drop the subjects at the age of 16 without having gained a qualification in them – this has since changed.
Evie: What do you think of our Apprenticeship Programme?
Mark: The Community Housing Group has embraced apprenticeships very well and this is evident with the number of apprentices they employ. They are becoming more and more diverse in the fact that more departments are becoming interested in employing apprentices as they are seeing the success in other departments.
Richard: The Community Housing Groups’ mission is to ‘deliver excellent homes in thriving communities’. What do you think we could do to achieve and improve this?
Mark: The excellent homes are there, thriving communities are difficult to achieve as they require the presence and willingness of the people within the community. That’s something that can be lacking anywhere due to a variety of different reasons. Communities are very much about everyone interacting with each other, being empathic, welcoming and contributing their part towards developing the community.
That concludes our questions.
Having spoken to Mark further we believe he is fully supportive of apprenticeships and how they can benefit the local community, whilst also providing an alternative to higher education.
Moving forward Mark has agreed to return to visit us on our Community Project day and will also support us in our Brathay Apprentice Challenge 2015, #BAC15
Thanks for reading, we’ll be back soon with more stories and information about our projects.
Abbey, Finance Apprentice
So, Wednesday 21st January was our third team meeting. Our aim for the meeting was to get further ideas and to develop a plan for a community project and a school event, which we will be holding at our offices.
The school event will be held on Wednesday 4th March during National Careers week at The Community Housing Group offices, where around 90 Year 10 pupils from Baxter College will be coming along to understand the benefits of joining an Apprenticeship Programme. Our community project will be held at one of our own sheltered housing schemes during National Apprenticeship week, and we are planning to go along to help and encourage residents to ‘Eat What You Grow’ as well as helping with digital inclusion.
We decided that the best way to gain momentum with both these projects was to split into two groups and develop ideas on both.
Evie, Will, Chelsea and Charlie developed ideas on the Baxter College day and it was decided that the pupils from Baxter College will visit our offices to look at various interactive information stands and ask questions about apprenticeships and different sectors within our business. The idea is that the pupils can see which careers they are interested in and to provide them with more information on what different jobs entail.
Joe, Richard, H and I worked on the ideas for the community project and we decided to go with the idea of encouraging our residents to ‘Eat What You Grow’. We will also help the residents of the sheltered scheme with using the internet to search for information on growing your own food, by providing help and support.
At the end of the session both groups presented ideas on each project and we devised an action plan to move these forward.
Watch this space….
Abbey, Finance Apprentice
I’m Abbey Williams, Finance Apprentice and I will be looking after the blog this week;
My story so far… I was ending my first year of sixth form when I came across the idea of apprenticeships. With no desires of university, I decided to have a look for a different option rather than continue with my a-levels when I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do post sixth form. As my sixth form was very pro university I had no knowledge of what an apprenticeship was when I came across the vacancy for the position I am currently in. So with a bit of research I decided it was the right path for me. As you get to earn money whilst gaining a qualification.
I’m not going to lie joining the world of work was a shock to the system at first. And adjusting the length of hours and volume of work took some getting used to, but it’s a learning curve that I now appreciate and was expected by my employers. I’ve learnt so much in my position, not just specific job tasks but general things such as how to interact in a team of people who are diverse in age and personalities. And not to forget I’ve earned a qualification whilst learning on the job. My apprenticeship has taught me that perseverance and hard work really pay off.
Although I am grateful for being able to learn new skills and gaining qualifications, my biggest achievement is how much my confidence has grown. A year ago I would have been the last person to volunteer to do a challenge like the ‘Brathay Apprentice Challenge’.
Mainstream education of a-levels then university isn’t for everyone, and I think apprenticeships should be made more aware and available as an option. It’s a great opportunity to earn a wage whilst not only gaining a qualification but also experience.
Today we had a visit from Mark Garnier, I’ll update you about this on Monday!!
On Monday, Councillor Adrian Hardman visited The Community Housing Group. We invited him in to discuss our apprenticeship programme and how he could support us in the future. I met with Adrian during his visit to relay my story and make him aware of how important Apprenticeships are in the local area. Giving young people the chance to thrive in business.
Following this I spoke to him about our involvement in the Brathay Apprenticeship Challenge. Adrian congratulated me on my success so far and told me that he was going to follow our Brathay progress. Here’s a picture of us… notice how I snuck in the #GetInGoFar #1in2million tags!
Abbey, Finance Apprentice, is next up on our blog – she’ll let you know how we got on during our planning meeting later today!
Hi, I’m Harry Yates (you can call me ‘H’), Grounds Maintenance Apprentice and today marks the first ‘Brathay Apprentice Challenge’ event in our calendar of events!
This morning I went to Bewdley School and Sixth Form Centre to talk to Year 10 students during their Work Experience Conference. My plan was to raise awareness of how good it is to be an apprentice, ahead of their work experience programmes that they will complete at the start of Year 11.
I prepared a presentation for the students which included a summary of some of the services offered by The Community Housing Group (TCHG) to young people, which included: how work experience can benefit you and give you a foot in the door whilst boosting your CV, Traineeships and Apprenticeships.
Here I am presenting at today’s event:
Keep checking our blog for more updates…..
See you soon!
As promised, please see our latest Brathay Apprentice Challenge 2015 team photo – luckily the rain and snow held off for camera!
Back Row – Left to right: Matt Johnson, Will Ward, Joe Adams, Harry Yates
Front Row – Left to right: Evie Brookes, Chelsea Jay, Abbey Williams, Richard Lavelle
Charlie Campbell (not pictured).