MyBigCareer volunteer speaks on apprenticeships

On 11th and 12th July 2016, MyBigCareer volunteer Zoë Dan visited two schools to talk about apprenticeships. Here, she recounts her experience. For more information search ‘apprenticeships’ or ‘traineeships’ on


“Social mobility charity MyBigCareer (MBC), supported by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA), asked me to go into two challenging schools, Rose Bridge Academy, Wigan, and North Cambridge Academy to speak to two groups of year 10 students about undertaking an apprenticeship. This was my first time of speaking to a class and was very grateful for the steers I received from MBC CEO, Deborah Streatfield.

Thanks are also due to Anna Trocme Latter for setting it up and to Sarah Newbery (both from MBC) for being there to support me in Cambridge.

I was also grateful to have enlisted the help from Emilia Hoyle, a current marketing apprentice from Heat Trace and Ian Hardwick, General Manager at Madingley Hall.

I needed to maintain pace and interest throughout and used music videos, films, bright visuals and interactive questions to try to achieve this. The students at both schools were enthused, sparky and eager to know more. They asked questions and knew many of the answers themselves. They were mostly aware of what apprenticeships were but needed a little clarification. I think they found it helpful to be told about the vast variety of apprenticeships that are on offer; the apprenticeship route could get you into traditionally difficult-to-enter fields such as TV, media, broadcasting and fashion and it will propel you straight into a company, with all of the connections and without any of the traditional debt associated with doing a degree.

I started by asking them what they thought an apprenticeship was. That gave me the impetus to launch into further discussion about roles associated with the music industry or more traditional desk based jobs. I wanted to communicate how an apprenticeship is firstly a real job, but that it’s also linked to progression. I wanted to emphasise that they wouldn’t be stuck at the bottom on minimum wage but would get the opportunity to get ahead; I gave examples of former apprentices who had risen to the top of their professions such as Nicky Clarke (hairdressing) and Lord Bamford (JCB – construction).

I offered advice on where to find an apprenticeship, how to write a strong application and how to approach the advert – and later on, the interview. I also explained traineeships and how to find one, if they felt they weren’t yet ready to start an apprenticeship.

Emilia and Ian gave great insight into what was involved from the apprentice and employer perspective and we covered good ground in a little under an hour.

We received glowing reports from the teachers at both schools who mentioned that the students had not stopped speaking about it. It’s so encouraging to hear this and I am so proud of what we’ve all achieved to heighten awareness. There is a lot more to do but this is, at least, a small step towards giving apprenticeships the platform they deserve.”

Zoë Dan, MyBigCareer Volunteer, Skills Funding Agency 


“We very much appreciate you both taking the time out to come and visit our students – I know they appreciated and enjoyed your presentations.”

Helen Sharples, Futures Director, Rose Bridge Academy


“I wanted to thank you all deeply for giving your time to come to speak to our students on Tuesday. Not only were the students thoroughly engaged during the session, but they were buzzing and talking about it the next day too. The other staff and I all noticed a more enthusiastic, a more focused and a more engaged year 11 the following day. The feedback I have had has been overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic, from staff and students alike. Your efforts made them feel not only inspired, but valued. There is no-one who was involved who has been anything less than thrilled.”

Nicola Gabb, Senior Tutor, North Cambridge Academy



Posted on July 27, 2016 in Our News

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