Inspire your apprentices to #BlazeATrail

Motivated, young apprentices work hard to reach their potential and blaze a trail, forging their careers. But how do you spark their interest in the first place?

National Apprenticeship Week takes place from 4-8 March, highlighting the impact apprenticeships can have on learners and organisations. This year, the week’s theme focuses on blazing a trail, particularly boosting young people’s employability.

Across the UK, many VET organisations use Erasmus+ funding to spark passion within their participants. As they develop new skills and experiences, some individuals go on to gain employment and other exciting opportunities.

But how do you nurture that determination amongst your learners? Get inspiration from our exemplary beneficiaries and the participants they helped to blaze a trail.

Fred Barnt

A focus on soft skills

At Leicester College, many of the students live in areas of high education deprivation with limited employment opportunities. Through Erasmus+ funding, the college organised placements in Seville, where learners could develop work-based skills.

For some, it was their first time travelling abroad. This meant they could develop vital soft skills, such as self-confidence and independence. Fred Brant, one of the participants, said:

“The trip was really worth going on - practically it's really helped me. I definitely became more independent from being away too.” He soon secured an apprenticeship, with employers eager to learn more about Fred’s time in Seville.

“They were very interested in what went on with the placement, they asked questions about it. It was a great conversation starter at the interview.”

Fred, who is in full-time employment, was also a 2018 UK EuroApprentice, promoting the benefits of participating in VET Erasmus+ projects.

Through focusing on soft skills as well as work-related skills, organisations encourage apprentices to get the most out of their placements; moulding them into individuals ready to impress employers.

Once-in-a-lifetime opportunities

Beneficiaries collaborate with their partners to create truly worthwhile opportunities. For some apprentices, these opportunities can be a pivotal step in motivating them and setting up their careers. This is certainly true for League Football Education (LFE), who support released UK footballers.

Zak Guerfi and Moses Duckrell secured three-month placements in Sweden, thanks to LFE’s Erasmus+ project, where they continued their football development. Beforehand, their UK clubs had released them after they had completed their apprenticeships.

“I was falling out of love with football,” said Moses. “The placement helped me to rekindle that flame and it just helped me to propel my career forward.” The opportunity meant they could develop technical and tactical football skills whilst exploring Swedish culture.

“I love the Swedish lifestyle. They’re so much more relaxed and everyone is really helpful. I really feel I’ve developed as a person. The biggest skill I’ve learnt is independence,” said Zak.

As a result of these opportunities, Zak and Moses rediscovered their passion for football and continued to reach for their dreams. They achieved this and both became professional footballers, playing for clubs Bodens BK and Friska Viljor FC respectively.

Moses celebrating on football pitch

Their stories highlight the power of worthwhile opportunities. Not only in the way they inspire participants, but also in giving them a valuable boost to their employability.

Learning comes to life

Work placements, if co-ordinated effectively, can inspire and empower apprentices where their learning comes to life. This was a crucial aspect for Bath College, who were committed to making their students more employable.

Caitlin Brennan, one of the college’s learners, did her placement at the Opéra Nouvel in France. Her experience involved activities for full dress rehearsals and taking part in production meetings, allowing her to discover her skills and capabilities.

She said: “It made me realise that I'm very independent and have a lot more confidence than other people my age which helped me to get my new job. Having that work experience behind me is amazing, to say I worked in an opera house in Lyon.”

Caitlin now works as a fully qualified nail technician. This shows that effective placements, where apprentices can gain new skills and knowledge in a real-life environment, enables them to broaden their horizons. It also gives them a unique selling point when finding employment.

Have these stories sparked new ideas for motivating your learners and do you want to get involved? Find out more about international opportunities for apprentices (482.34 KB).

This week is the perfect opportunity to share your experiences on social media. Remember to join in the conversation using #BlazeATrail and #NAW2019.

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