Looking beyond the hype; National Apprenticeship Week 2020

28th January 2020

National Apprenticeship Week is almost upon us. For me it’s a bit like Valentine’s Day …. I don’t need a particular day to tell someone I love them, but I can’t help getting totally engrossed, throwing myself into it 100% and buying the card(s), going to the over-priced restaurant and getting annoyed when others don’t follow suit! It’s kind of similar for National Apprenticeship Week, where everyone is encouraged to celebrate and show the love for everything Apprenticeships! But shouldn’t we be doing that for the other 51 weeks in the calendar? For me, I’m an advocate 24/7, 365 days of the year. There’s never an off button. I’ll challenge every retailer, service provider, friends in work, and people I’ve only just met about their views on vocational training, and then produce my business card (I know, how very 1990s). But there’s something about National Apprenticeship Week, when EVERYONE is flying the apprenticeship flag and hashtags are aplenty (#earnwhileyoulearn anyone?) that gets you gripped.

This year’s theme in particular has got me #firedup (sorry). The #LookBeyond theme is particularly ambitious, and for me encapsulates what apprenticeships are all about – diversity and progression. The journey doesn’t stop. You can kick off your experience at a Level 2, get the learning/earning bug and go right through to Degree level (and beyond?). It also (often) coincides with progression in the workplace too through promotion, and again, for me, there’s nothing better than home-grown talent, an MD who started as an apprentice? Shop floor to top floor? Can’t beat it.

Of course I’m biased, I’ve been an advocate of apprenticeships for a long time now, but even I don’t get the chance to celebrate them enough and National Apprenticeship Week gives me, the sector, employers, learners a chance to come together, to celebrate and recognise some pretty good stuff. We at InterLearn will be taking to the road ourselves, heading South to celebrate our own successes with Southeastern on Friday 7 February, where we jointly acknowledge the brilliant achievement of 70 (yes 70!) learners who recently achieved their L2 or L3 conductor and train driving apprenticeships. It’s great to have an employer like Southeastern who encourage this kind of event, whether it’s NAW or not, with this being the second such celebration in the last six months. You can read all about the first train driver and conductor apprenticeship celebration event, when we acknowledged the very first achievers of the new standard.

So whatever you’re doing next week during NAW2020, no matter how big or small, let’s applaud it and each other, for creating and celebrating something rather special. And maybe I might just see you there!

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