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Inspire! launches apprenticeship clubs

Students from Cardinal Pole Catholic School visited global law firm, Linklaters, as part of a new Apprenticeship Club initiative launched by Inspire!

Apprenticeship Clubs, funded by Hackney Council and run by Inspire!, have been established recently in three of the borough’s secondary schools. Their aim is to build an awareness of apprenticeships and support students where needed.

Groups of Year 11 students (15-16 year-olds) are attending a series of workshops to introduce them to the wide range of apprenticeships on offer, how they can research and apply for one, and the skills/qualifications they will need.

The initiative also involves meeting real apprentices so that the students can ask them directly about their career paths and experiences. The Cardinal Pole Apprenticeship Club visited Linklaters for an afternoon hosted by four apprentices working in business services roles, supporting the lawyers in the firm. The event was also attended by other Cardinal Pole students interested in a career in the legal or corporate world and representatives from Peadbody Trust.

Charly Allen, Jodie Rahman-Stokes, Lina Hailu and Joanne Butler described their jobs in the marketing, corporate responsibility, learning and development (training) and finance departments. The students were surprised to discover that the quartet had very mixed academic achievements and that it was still possible to go on to succeed and secure an apprenticeship by working hard. The apprentices emphasised however, that good exams results were preferable and that there were ample opportunities to re-sit exams or work towards other qualifications.

After quizzing the team about their jobs and life at Linklaters, the group explored just some of the apprenticeships available in the wider world. Some were amazed to discover professions such as forest ranger, glass blower and assistant equine groom. “I learned that apprenticeships can be in any job,” said one of the students.

“And that you can ask for an apprenticeship to be created for you,” said another. The afternoon concluded with a tour of the building taking in the staff restaurant, gym and the sleep pods used when employees are working late into the night.

Kyle Chapman is one of the Cardinal Pole Apprenticeship Club members. He has already attended several sessions.“Staying on for 6th form is not really for me. I prefer doing something more practical,” he said. “We’ve done a few sessions (at the Club) and last week we set up an apprenticeship account, so now I can go on-line, even at home, and start applying for things I’m interested in.”

As well as visits to employers, Apprenticeship Clubs cover behaviour in the workplace, interview skills and CV writing. The two other clubs are at Haggerston School and Bridge Academy.

Dorothy Hodgson who manages the programme at Inspire! said: “With students now required to stay in some kind of full time education or training until at least 17, there will be many who feel that that either they don’t want to go to university or that a purely academic route is not right for them. Apprenticeship Clubs are designed to show students that there is another route open to them. Young people are often unaware of the huge choice of apprenticeships available and that they can continue to learn and work towards a valuable qualification but earn a living at the same time. Examples like today’s visit demonstrate that people from a similar background to them can aspire to and achieve a successful career in the corporate world.”