Celebrating National Apprenticeship Week

This week to celebrate National Careers and Apprenticeship Week we sat down with ThinkForward’s three apprentices, Nargis, Aaliyah and Justas.

  • What made you want to apply for an apprenticeship?

I applied to be a ThinkForward apprentice as I wanted to gain more maturity by working with people who had experience in what I wanted to do. Being a ThinkForward participant when I was in school, I was really excited when the opportunity to join the ThinkForward team came up. Working for ThinkForward I know that I’m helping others and actually making a difference – Justas.

Being an apprentice is not easy. Making sure you’re on top of work and school is a challenge. But I knew I wanted to apply for an apprenticeship after my sister completed one and I saw how great it was for her career and how it opened up so many job opportunities in what she wanted to work in – Aaliyah.

  • If you had one piece of advice for others thinking about doing an apprenticeship, what would it be?

Working for ThinkForward has had an amazing impact on my mindset and my life. Somewhere along the journey this experience became more than just a job but became a passion and something I absolutely love doing. It has also opened a lot of doors for me and prepared me for my future career – Nargis.

An apprenticeship gives you so many good experiences and opportunities. I am learning from my mistakes and so many things from my colleagues too  – Justas.

Transforming the lives of young people in Nottingham North

The charities ThinkForward and Rebalancing the Outer Estates Foundation are partnering to provide a breakthrough Progression Coaching programme in four schools. Centred in Basford Hall, New College Nottingham, the programme will support young people most at risk of unemployment to ensure they successfully transition from school to higher education or sustained work.

Led by Graham Allen MP, Rebalancing the Outer Estates Foundation aims to break the intergenerational nature of Nottingham North’s outer estate deprivation, addressing route causes rather than just the symptoms. Together with ThinkForward they will work in schools to provide five years of one-to-one support to  young people identified as being most risk of becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training). ThinkForward’s Coaches will provide long-term personalised support, helping young people to overcome challenges in and out of school and to build employability skills and confidence.

ThinkForward currently works with over 1100 young people across 14 schools in east London and has achieved impressive results. 91% of young people graduating from the programme are in further education, employment or training and 72% have achieved 5 A*-C GSCE’s. Building on this success their move to Nottingham is the first step in their national expansion.

Why Nottingham North?

Nottingham North has some of the UK’s highest levels of inter-generational unemployment, low educational attainment and social deprivation. Despite Nottingham being a hub for local and national businesses many young people from Nottingham North are not progressing into sustained jobs and 1 in 3 live in a workless households.

The ThinkForward programme will address this by supporting 200 young people at Bluecoat Beechdale Academy, Bulwell Academy, Ellis Guilford School and Nottingham University Samworth Academy. Partnering with local employers including Nottingham City Homes and Boots, young people will benefit from targeted ready for work activities including, business mentoring, work experience placements and entry level jobs.

Partnership opportunities

The programme’s success depends on partnerships between schools, existing support providers and local employers. ThinkForward is seeking cornerstone funding to match funds raised from The Careers and Enterprise Company, Rebalancing the Outer Estates Foundation and schools to run the programme for the next five years. Local Business Champions are also being sought to provide skills based volunteering.

I am excited about working with ThinkForward, so that together our students most at risk of future unemployment are able to benefit from support with transitioning from school to employment or training.” Paul Halcro, Principal, The Bulwell Academy

To find out more about partnering with ThinkForward and to get involved in the launch contact Hannah Sharp – hannah.sharp@thinkforward.org.uk 

If you are interested in joining the ThinkForward team in Nottingham you can find more details about the job roles here.

New law to end ‘outdated snobbery’ towards apprenticeships

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said schools must give equal airtime to the non-academic routes pupils can take post-16, under government plans to end the ‘second class’ perception of technical and professional education.

A new law would see apprenticeship providers visit schools as part of careers advice from early secondary school, to talk to pupils about the opportunities open to them. It will also mean schools will be required by law to collaborate with training providers to ensure that young people are aware of all the routes to higher skills and the workplace, including higher and degree apprenticeships. The move follows concerns from ministers about careers advice, with some schools currently unwilling to recommend apprenticeships or other technical and professional routes to any but the lowest-achieving pupils – effectively creating a two-tiered system of careers advice.

At ThinkForward we work with the most disengaged young people across east London to ensure they transition from school to further education or employment. However, we’ve found that although such new laws are much needed, they must be met by demand. Young people need to first be willing to take these opportunities and make the most of careers advice. Which is why our early intervention one-on-one Coaching model engages disadvantaged young people over five years from the age of 13. We ensure young people are offered business mentoring, work placements, work insight days and skills workshops, including CV writing and interview practice to make the most of opportunities offered post-16.

To put this in perspective, 44% of people who began apprenticeships last year were aged 25 or over where as figures now show a fall in the number of 16 to 18-year-olds signing up – a 1.4% drop to 129,90. Which is why in 2015 we came up with eight Ready for Work capabilities, based on recommendations from research into the behaviours, mind-sets and skills employers across all sectors looks for in their workforce, particularly for entry level positions.

ThinkForward Managing Director, Kevin Munday said: “We welcome the changes outlined as we’ve identified through our Progression Coaching model how critical good careers advice and ongoing support can be in supporting a young person into a sustained career path. However we would like to see more guidance for schools to supported disengaged students with such opportunities.”