Bristol’s apprentices bust common myths ahead of national awareness week

Apprentices working in a range of companies across the city are sharing their experiences ahead of national apprenticeship week, which kicks off next Monday (4 March).

This year’s theme is ‘blaze a trail’ and trainees are speaking out to encourage more people across the region to consider apprenticeships as a way to kick start or reinvigorate their careers.

Saida Bello, 39, works as a solicitor and is currently undertaking a Level 7 MBA apprenticeship in leadership and management, equivalent to a master’s degree, proving that apprenticeships are available at a range of levels, across different sectors – and that you can still have a job whilst completing one.

Saida said:

“Training in this way means I can continue my work as a solicitor, but also gain the additional skills, experience and qualifications I’m looking for. As apprenticeship programmes are funded, it means my tuition fees are covered and I still get paid in line with my skills and job role. I would have jumped at this kind of opportunity when I was first a student all those years ago as not only can you get qualifications without the massive debt, but you can put the classroom theory into practice at work and continue your learning in a real life situation.”

Also taking part in the campaign is Lisa Hamblin, 48, who started a new role as a teaching assistant in September at Brentry Primary School in Bristol. Lisa returned to work after a period of ill health, having previously worked in the pub industry. She said:

“I think apprenticeships are a great way for people of my age to re-train and embark on a new career, they are flexible enough to work around family commitments and really the best way into my chosen field. My advice to others is just do it – if it’s scary that’s because it is worthwhile doing and you could not ask for more support from both tutors and employers.”

In the run up to and during the week there will be a number of opportunities to find out more about apprenticeships available across the region, including a job fair at South Bristol Skills Academy on 28 February (11am-3pm).

The week will kick off with Bristol Apprenticeship Fair, a free drop-in event at We the Curious on 4 March (11am-3pm) where employers and providers will be showcasing apprenticeship vacancies. Practical tips and advice on interviews plus appointments for help with registration and apprenticeship applications will be available for anyone interested. The National Careers Service will be holding drop in sessions at The Mall Cribbs Causeway and the Jobs and Careers Hub in the Galleries throughout the week (Mon-Fri) from 10am-6pm.

There will also be a digital open day on 6 March with a wide range of organisations answering questions about apprenticeships on Twitter. Anyone with an apprenticeship question is urged to get in touch with one of the participating organisations via Twitter using the hashtag #ApprenticeOpenDay*

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said:

“We’re using national apprenticeship week as a way to challenge outdated views about apprenticeships and shining a light on what they’re really like. The benefits are numerous; open to anyone over 16, apprenticeships can offer competitive salaries and help you gain new skills to increase your earning potential, plus your training costs are paid. Employers are waking up to the benefits apprenticeships can bring and we have some excellent employers with opportunities available in the region.”

Bristol is also taking part in the government’s Five Cities Apprenticeship Diversity Hub project, which is a pilot scheme designed to broaden the appeal of apprenticeships to more diverse audiences. It includes Bristol alongside Birmingham, Leicester, London and Manchester. Locally it is also supported by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA).