National Apprenticeship Week 2023: Inspiring the next generation.
This National Apprenticeship Week we chatted to three brilliant apprentices with our corporate partners QinetiQ, Jonathan, Heather and Sara. This dedicated trio all volunteer their time to support our Blue Skies programmes and serve as inspiring role models to our students in Dorset.
Jonathan, Heather and Sara explained what their work with JET meant to them, and how their apprenticeships were helping lay foundations for future career success.
What made you want to volunteer with JET?
Jonathan: “I really wanted to volunteer with JET because it seemed like a great opportunity to share why I’m enthusiastic about apprenticeships and how they could be a great route for young people to consider as their next step after finishing their school studies.”
Heather: “I decided to volunteer with JET as I wanted to give back to the community by explaining what having an apprenticeship has meant for me, and why I would recommend it to anyone who is unsure about what they want to do after school.”
Sara: “I wanted to get involved with JET because my personal experiences growing up with family in a third world country allows me to fully empathise and connect with the young people that JET support. I was fortunate to stumble upon an apprenticeship after school, and now I am currently undergoing my second apprenticeship. Having not known anything about them before, I am now very passionate about raising awareness and advocating the benefits I have gained, so I can highlight what alternative routes to learning are available.”
Describe a day volunteering with Blue Skies students and the sorts of activities you lead.
Jonathan: “A Day volunteering with Blue Skies students involves running an interactive apprenticeship workshop session, which includes mini games, apprenticeship knowledge bursts and info sessions, videos and student team activities.”
Heather: “We introduce discussions to the students about the variety of apprenticeships available. Considering their favourite subjects, many students are always surprised with the variety of fields apprenticeships are available in, especially with companies such as Netflix and Spotify! Other activities include ‘match-the-photo to job title,’ video quizzes, as well as a final knowledge quiz to test the students on what they had learnt in the session.”
Sara: “During a Blue Skies session, we often begin with an Icebreaker to get to know the students, before sharing information on apprenticeships, which often opens their eyes! We then test their knowledge on what they have learnt with fun activities, before sharing our own personal stories and giving advice from our experience. Finally, we open the floor to the students – no question is a silly question!”
Why do you think it is important to make the students aware of the opportunities at QinetiQ and apprenticeships in general?
Jonathan: “Although there are numerous apprenticeships within the UK, they are not always well promoted at schools and colleges. Apprenticeships provide a fantastic opportunity for students to earn while they learn, gaining valuable work experience which will help them grow personally and professionally, and equip them with the necessary qualifications to support the rest of their career journey. I believe that all students, no matter what their interests, should seriously consider the apprenticeship route after their studies at school.”
Heather: “It is important to consider apprenticeships because there are so many opportunities in a variety of different industries. Having hands on experience in the workplace years before others gives you an edge over other candidates. You also get to work towards a qualification which you will receive at the end of your course (fully funded by the company you work for)! In my personal experience with QinetiQ, the support with study as well as discussions around career progression makes me feel valued as an apprentice. It is great to be part of a company where your ideas matter just as much as someone with more years of experience than you! In addition, QinetiQ have many opportunities (outside of your usual working day) to get involved in, which allows you to network with people you would not usually work with!”
Sara: “There are too many misconceptions around apprenticeships, (i.e., that they are only for manual labour roles) but they are so much more than that and people need to be informed about what they are and what they offer. Apprenticeships provide different methods and ways of learning in addition to classrooms and books. Knowledge sharing and the chance to engage and learn from people is unique and invaluable. Apprenticeships provides an alternative way to develop your confidence and interpersonal skills that may be better suited to different learning styles.”
Do you have any advice for future students interested in apprenticeships?
Jonathan: “Yes – I would encourage all students to continually check job websites and apprenticeship sites and find something that they are passionate and enthusiastic about! Start by just searching for a chosen field or interest, and you will be surprised what amazing apprenticeships are out there. Also, really check the details of the apprenticeship, to make sure that the level of the apprenticeship suits you and that it will help you progress your career.”
Heather: “There are lots of helpful websites that go into more detail about what apprenticeships are available. My Top 2 recommendations are GetMyFirstJob as well as UCAS Job search. These websites have specific filters which will help you to find certain jobs based on what qualifications you have, as well as what level apprenticeship you are looking for! If you are unsure about the traditional university route, apprenticeships can be the alternative. Instead of being in lectures/learning all week, training providers break down the content into one day, and you get paid to be there! You also still get the University experience as you meet and interact with students in your classes at college/university (depending on level).”
Sara: “My advice is to be inquisitive and curious, and do not be afraid to ask questions. Everyone is more than willing to answer questions because it shows that you are interested! Also, be organised, apprenticeships are hard, and they take a lot of work and commitment – you will have to juggle studying and working at the same time, so it is important to keep a plan, manage time and keep a good balance.”
Apprenticeships at QinetiQ
Creating a pipeline of skilled talent is a top priority for QinetiQ who, as a global company of over 8,000 dedicated people, are keen to invest time and resources into its growing apprenticeship programme to recruit the most talented and enthusiastic young people. For more information about apprenticeships at Qinetiq, visit here.