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Apprentice Week puts case for upskilling UK


By Mike Scialom


Amazon National Apprenticship Week : Alvida Kasmauskaite, Cambridge Development Centre. (7623395)
Amazon National Apprenticship Week : Alvida Kasmauskaite, Cambridge Development Centre. (7623395)

It’s National Apprentice Week and those who made the leap have been sharing their stories.

First up, Anglia Ruskin University graduate Danny Riley has been named as Apprentice of the Year by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) – after originally having to leave university when he was 19 due to mental health issues.

Danny, now 35, enrolled at Anglia Ruskin University in 2015, one of the first cohort to study for the chartered management degree apprenticeship, a partnership with his employer Barclays. He achieved a first-class degree and graduated in October last year. Danny now works as an operational learning analyst with Barclays, so congratulations to him.

Another success story is that of Jemma Wood, 27, an engineer who began her career as an apprentice at Stagecoach East, and has just been appointed workshop manager at the company’s Fenstanton depot.

Jemma joined Stagecoach in 2011 as an apprentice engineer.

“I didn’t want to go to college or university, but the idea of earning money while learning a trade for life was very appealing,” she says.

Jemma spent three years at Stagecoach’s Peterborough depot, with week-long secondments to a Bristol college. Then she went to the Cambridge depot on Cowley Road, and trained for an Optare (bus) course and ADL (bus) course. After finishing her apprenticeship, Jemma spent two years as a shift-fitter, repairing mechanical faults on vehicles, before becoming a bus inspector; for the next 18 months she helped check the fleet of 120 buses for mechanical errors or problems.

JemmaWood, apprentice, Stagecoach (7623399)
JemmaWood, apprentice, Stagecoach (7623399)

When the Fenstanton position came up, she applied. “I felt confident to apply for it because I had had such great training,” she says. “I’m hugely proud to have got the job.”

The role involves running the guided busway workshop and organising the service plan for the fleet. She is also responsible for 18 staff.

“Jemma is a great example of just what apprentices can achieve by earning and learning on the job,” says Michelle Hargreaves, acting managing director for Stagecoach East. “We’re always keen to hear from men and women of any age – not just school-leavers – who would like to find out more about the apprenticeship schemes that we offer.”

On the other side of town, on Station Road, Alvida Kasmauskaite, 21, is an IT apprentice working at Amazon’s Development Centre. Alvida started her apprenticeship in 2018 and is working towards a qualification to become an IT technician after three years of training with Amazon and QA Training.

“On this apprenticeship, there’s no such thing as a typical day and that’s why I love it,” she said. “I’ll be working on a wide range of tasks on a daily basis, including solving IT problems and fixing large technical issues.

“When they need something fixed, it’s something they’ve not been able to do themselves and it’s a complex problem, which is fantastic for my learning and development.”

The new apprentices will add to Amazon’s 27,500 permanent employees currently in the UK, with pay ranging from an entry level starting salary of £9.50/£10.50 an hour, up to £30,000 a year.

Amazon has announced it will create more than 1,000 new apprenticeships in fulfilment centres and development centres across the UK, including six new apprenticeships in the Cambridge Development Centre.

Meanwhile, Network Rail Anglia is seeking 17 enthusiastic, conscientious apprentices to begin an “engine-eous” three-year programme departing in September.

Anglian Water is also calling on budding young engineers to consider an apprenticeship in a vital industry. The water company will be offering more than 60 positions this year.

Learning while earning - Marshall apprentice Oliver Drury
Learning while earning - Marshall apprentice Oliver Drury

Finally, Anglia Ruskin University welcomed its 1,000th apprentice in time for National Apprenticeship Week 2019, which runs until March 8.

Rebecca Head, who works in the marketing division at The One Group, has now enrolled on a chartered manager degree apprenticeship course with Anglia Ruskin, following 999 others who have taken on work-based learning courses in subjects as diverse as nursing, civil engineering and digital and technology solutions.

Tom Taylor, head of degrees at work at Anglia Ruskin University, said: “Degree apprenticeships are growing quickly and are an ideal way to get on and earn within a company while studying towards a degree-level qualification. It’s the best of both worlds.

“Apprenticeships offer the chance to upskill the UK workforce and will be a vital component of higher education in the future.”



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