Apprenticeships are a Ladder of Opportunity

With career progression opportunities up to degree level, and more than 170 industry options available, Apprenticeships have never been a more attractive proposition for young people looking to start their careers. Also, the Government target of three million apprentices by 2020, with an Apprenticeship levy coming into play in April, has really raised the profile of the work-based learning programme.

The attraction of earning a wage, while learning on-the-job and gaining qualifications, is obvious but the benefits go far beyond the Apprenticeship itself. After finishing, 90% of apprentices stay in employment, with seven in ten staying with the same employer. A quarter are promoted within 12 months of finishing. On average, individuals with an Advanced Apprenticeship earn between £77,000 and £117,000 more over their lifetime than others with level 2 qualifications; this figure increases to £150,000 for those completing a Higher Apprenticeship.

City College Plymouth is one of the largest Apprenticeship providers in the country, with a success rate of 16% above the national average. Working with more than 1,300 local employers, the College’s Apprenticeship programme has been rated as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted.

Bethany Parker, 18, is a City College hospitality apprentice, employed by The Boathouse Café on the Barbican. She has worked as a waitress since she was 15-years-old and in that time, she has experienced a broad range of dining styles - a five-star restaurant, a pub, and an American diner. Bethany is now taking her career to the next level, formalising what she loves doing with on-the-job-training and qualifications.

“I love what I do, particularly meeting different people and getting to know their stories,” said Bethany. “Being an apprentice is the perfect solution; as well as earning a wage I am studying for a level 3 qualification, which is going to help me progress my career. At the moment I am learning how to do the books and look after customers. I’ve done my first close down, which involved cashing up and locking up.
“Because I’m learning as I’m working, I am picking it up really quickly and when I qualify at the end of this year I will already have hands-on management experience. I want to take my skills and travel around the world; experience different cultures and hospitality styles. The Apprenticeship is opening up that opportunity for me.

“City College has been fantastic in supporting me,” Bethany continued. “In fact, it was working at a College function day being held at the Boathouse Café that got me the job. As well as visiting me at the Café, my assessors always come and see me when I am at the College - I attend for maths and English sessions or to help out in the PL1 Restaurant. They are always at the end of the phone and if I need to talk, they listen and give me sound advice.

“I am very lucky because I also get great support from the team at The Boathouse Café, who are teaching me everything they know. It is a real family atmosphere and after we close for the day we all go off and have a game of pool together!”

Boathouse Café Manager, Charlie Sturgess, said: “Last April, The Boathouse Café hosted the Trans-Atlantic Boat Race. This attracted sailors and other visitors from all over the world. City College volunteered their students to host and cook for the guests. As a result, I got to see how everyone worked, including who was keen and interested in how the business works! Beth was motivated, hardworking and keen to learn. These fundamental skills are all one needs to succeed in this industry. From that moment on I was eager to have here as part of my team.

“Training apprentices is a great way of attracting enthusiastic talent, who are keen to put forward and try fresh ideas. Beth is one of those people who continues to write down ideas and bring them to meetings. It encourages other staff to think ‘out of the box’ and bring something unique to the team. Hiring Beth as an apprentice has helped me reduce staff turnover because she has become very loyal to the business and is willing to come in when required. This helps me fill in gaps in the rota and fulfil the business needs on a day-to-day basis.”

For more information about Apprenticeships, the College is holding a Course Information Drop-in on Wednesday 8 March, 4.30pm to 6.30pm, at Kings Road. For further details please visit cityplym.ac.uk/events or call 01752 305300.