After four years of ‘lobbying’ (OK – moaning, grumbling, sulking, stamping my feet et al) the new apprenticeship reforms have allowed graduates to take part in apprenticeship programmes for the first time ever and I can’t tell you what a difference this is making in the classroom…
Well – I could… OK I will…
Readers of my previous blogs (and why wouldn’t you be?) will have heard me bemoan the fact that, due to funding rules, graduates were not allowed to take part in apprenticeships, due to the fact that ‘they’ve already had their share of educational funding’ (or some such nonsense). But I always thought it was pretty rubbish that we in The Juice Academy – which was set up to fill a digital skills gap and create jobs for young people – could give a better life chance to a school leaver than we could give to a grad who’s put him/herself through uni and acquired the subsequent debt, so I wasn’t about to let it go at that.
Now I’m not claiming credit for this – I’m sure I was one very small (and not very impressive) voice in a chorus/clamour – but I’m so delighted that the policy was changed as now we have our first ever classroom made up of both grads AND school leavers and it has made SUCH a difference to them both.
Previously we’d have to regretfully tell grads the programme was not open to them, thus denying them the holy grail of a foot in the door of employment in our amazing sector. Previously, our classroom only taught 16-23 year old school leavers (and mainly 17 – 19 year olds). Now we’re 50/50 and they’re working together in blissful harmony – bringing their respective mindsets and experiences to each other and their employers.
The grads bring their critical thinking, the advantage of their additional few years of life lived and their knowledge that – honestly, having been ‘out there’ a little while in the world – it’s not that easy to find a job, never mind a career. The school leavers bring their enthusiasm, their untarnished optimism and their unbroken learning habit. Together they’re an amazing melting pot of smiles and engagement and mutual support.
So well done for listening (eventually – sorry, couldn’t resist!) the Skills Funding Agency – I applaud you and can guarantee that your decision will make a difference to thousands of young people and employers.
(Ooh except that if you want to take someone from our new-Improved programme, the next intake is 12th October and there’s only four places left for businesses!)