Sarah Grigg, employment and skills manager at North Devon+, reflects on the 2014 Apprentice Campaign
LAST week the Apprenticeships Steering Group met to discuss what has worked well and what we need to change for next year.
The group is facilitated by the local Employment and Skills Board and includes representatives from the National Apprenticeship Service, Careers South West, Jobcentre Plus, Devon and Cornwall Training Provider Network, Petroc and Group Training and Development, who are all passionate about continuing our successful local record with apprenticeships.
So far we have seen 778 apprenticeships started this academic year, with 353 in Torridge and 425 in North Devon.
The Apprenticeship Showcase event in particular received much praise, and with more than 562 people attending there was a great atmosphere throughout the day.
"Parents Hour" was a success, although the group feel this would benefit if it was earlier in the afternoon so parents had more chance to talk with exhibitors.
Obtaining good quality, impartial apprenticeship information to parents and then on to youngsters is essential.
One of the recurring issues the steering group found is that some parents mistakenly think that youngsters have to stay in education until they are 18, but they can become an apprentice at 16 if they wish, because training is provided as part of the job.
Vilija Burbulyte explained that within her role as business development team leader at Education and Training Skills, she visits many similar events as well as school career fairs every year.
She said: "The young people were more engaged than we have ever seen. They were coming in with their CVs and it was often them asking the questions, not the parents."
Every year, after we host the event, we listen to the comments and use them to improve the experience for all concerned.
This year we introduced the "Vacancies Wall" for the first time, but we all felt that this could be better positioned to maximise the opportunities for both employers and job-seekers.
Enhancements for next year include creating an "Employer Zone" where employers can receive impartial guidance and signposting before meeting with training providers.
Although there was less take up during the "Employers Breakfast", several businesses who were seeking apprentices visited during the afternoon.
One employer said: "I must say I was extremely impressed with the quality of the exhibition and clearly it was very well organised. As a result we are investigating the opportunity of taking on an apprentice."
To keep up to date with the latest apprenticeship information, visit ndapprenticeships.co.uk where employers will find the free information pack.