ATTENDING the Apprenticeship Showcase in 2013 led Catherine Higley, headteacher at East-the-Water Primary School, to create three new apprenticeships.
"I wanted to create opportunities for local young people," said Catherine. "In the school environment we can offer support to help them get to the end of their training. It's all about learning and doing, developing professional skills and experience.
"We can train someone from scratch about the ethos of the workplace.
"They work alongside experienced people who model best practice. If you're just studying at college on a work placement you wouldn't have time for that.
"We can develop their attitude to work and motivation to work, and help them improve their communication skills within large groups and large experienced teams."
The Employment and Skills Board has found that these "soft" or transferable skills are frequently requested by employers and are something that is crucial to ensuring a young person's employability.
The recent Northern Devon Skills Survey confirms this, with the most common responses citing communication skills, work ethic, time keeping and attendance and motivation as the top things businesses want to see in a career starter.
While at the Apprenticeship Showcase, Catherine became aware of fresh options for her school to take on apprenticeships.
"I hadn't realised I could find a trainer that met the school's needs. I needed flexibility to fit in with the school day. We are a training school for the Schools Direct programme and we have an ambitious team of teaching assistants."
Three of Catherine's teaching assistants team joined as apprentices in September.
"I knew Ruby should have gone into education. She had just stepped out of the system and couldn't quite get back in again. Since starting her apprenticeship, Anela has developed good subject knowledge, while Emily is gaining valuable experience in children's learning. A variety of pathways are now open to them."
In the next 12 months Catherine would like them to achieve their NVQs and feel confident as practitioners.
"One of the main benefits of the Schools Direct programme is the quality: it exceeds other options. Our apprentices will be ready for the workplace."
Read more on page 20.