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Apprenticeship Week 2021

10 February 2021 | Updated 18 June 2021

The 14th annual week-long celebration of Apprenticeships, taking place across England, will showcase the impact Apprenticeships can have on communities, local businesses and regional economies.


“Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to learn while you earn, opening up new and exciting career paths that can transform lives,"



– Gillian Keegan
Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills

#NAW2021 will celebrate the motivating stories of how Apprentices have helped business adapt and build during a challenging year, and how businesses have provided skill building opportunities young people. “Build the Future” is the theme this year, encouraging consideration of the value in such schemes.

“Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to learn while you earn, opening up new and exciting career paths that can transform lives," said Gillian Keegan, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills. "It’s been a tough year for everyone, but we want the theme for National Apprenticeship Week 2021 to be a springboard to look ahead to how apprenticeships can futureproof workforces and boost careers.”

Apprenticeships provide a special work relationship – employers are exempt from paying the rate of a pre-qualified employee, have the chance to source raw talent, and the employee gains specified experience during qualification for the role.


Apprenticeships for FM

The Facilities Management industry is well suited for these partnerships due to connections with hands-on trade services, but also in it’s organisational side where digital transformation is rapidly utilising competitive systems which have unique operations to learn and contribute to the progression of. Many related occupations require a lot of specific training regardless of prior experience in a classroom.

This is recognised by organisations with funding to invest. Sodexo has announced for #NAW2021 that it has committed to transferring a 25 per cent donation of the company’s £3.3m government levy to support apprenticeship training. Sodexo has long been a passionate advocate of apprenticeships, and since the government introduced levy in 2017 to create long term sustainable funding for apprentices, Sodexo has been proactively encouraging its own employees to consider apprenticeships as a way of personal development, and using apprenticeships as a way of addressing identified skill gaps.


Education Provider Relationships


David Sanderson, Director of Estates, Fleet & Facilities Management at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, spoke for the awareness week on Linked In. He started an apprenticeship as an electrician for a local company on his 16th birthday, desiring to develop a transferable trade skill, with no certainty on the direction his career would take from there.

The versatility of apprenticeships means they can be offered at appropriate levels of education. For example, South Bank Colleges, part of the London South Bank University (LSBU) Group of local educational institutions, will offer apprenticeships in engineering and healthcare, from September 2021.

These apprenticeships will focus on delivering levels two and three to young applicants. As the sponsor University, LSBU’s role will be to ensure these apprenticeships are high quality and meet the needs of both employers and apprentices; LSBU currently offers a variety of apprenticeships with employer sponsors, across a range of sectors - from building services, engineering and chartered planning to nursing, screen skills, rail engineering, technical acoustics and digital marketing.

LSBU is marking National Apprenticeship Week 2021 by celebrating coming second out of all leading higher education apprenticeship providers in England. 

In 2020 LSBU introduced six construction standards at levels 4 and 6. LSBU became the first English university to launch levels 5 and 6 apprenticeships in Rail and Rail Systems Engineering, working with employers such as Network Rail, Transport for London, WSP and Siemens.

Lauren Smithers, 22 years-old, currently a second-year Digital Marketing trainee in LSBU’s Business School, on a Digital Marketer apprenticeship with Pearson Plc, said “I was searching for jobs online and came across an apprenticeship. Once I started to look into it further, I knew it was the route for me as I struggled with being in education full-time.

“I needed more hands-on experience, as I tend to learn best while doing something practical."

“Getting young people into the Engineering, Estates or Facilities industry is now a challenge,” noted David Sanderson. “My own organisation the NHS is starting to include roles in their advertising, as the realise that without security, cleaning, tradesmen and medical engineers, a hospital would stop operating very quickly.”

That said, he also highlighted how learning in multiple sectors feed into the upper tiers of the FM industry. He moved from schools and hospitals into recycling and automotive production management, utilising earlier training when his customer required waste management and other services in that last role. “Other colleagues have fallen into FM through surveying, HR, procurement, personal assistants… Whatever your current skill set it will be useful in the FM world.”


Diversity and Inclusion


This diversity of occupancy is also benefitting from more equal inclusion, a welcome trend in an industry that has been considered like others to be male dominated in a way that has raised mental health concerns. This was especially highlighted in the construction and engineering sectors. Apprenticeships present a structured way of encouraging educated rebalance.

Leeds College of Building and construction partner, BAM, is celebrating student diversity figures as they join the rest of the country in marking #NAW2021.

Since choosing Leeds College of Building as a training provider four years ago, BAM has significantly increased the number of female apprentices enrolled on their Level 4 programme. Construction management, site supervisor, quantity surveying, and civil engineering apprenticeships have risen from 20 per cent to nearly 30 per cent females, compared to just 12.5 per cent construction workers nationally.

The apprenticeship programme is also nearly three times more ethnically diverse than recorded in the construction sector. Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) representation stands at 15 percent compared to less than six percent of construction workers nationally. 

BAM cites the inspiring diversity of staff in the Leeds College of Building lecturing team as of significant benefit to the Apprenticeship programme. Over the last decade, a focus on apprenticeships has resulted in a massive growth of the college’s technical and professional training and the team who deliver it.

Today, the Faculty of Higher Education, Construction Design & Management at Leeds College of Building employs 30 per cent female staff. Female lecturers come from a wide range careers including architecture, civil engineering, quantity surveying, and transport planning. Among the role models is Nikki Davis, the first female Vice-Principal at Leeds College of Building.


Picture: a graphic that says skills, connected to representations of such, in front of an individual with a smart device.

Article written by Bailey Sparkes | Published 10 February 2021


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