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Pathology Operations Director Krista De Four and Trainee Solicitor Lucy Wombwell discuss their apprenticeships at City for National Apprenticeship Week 2023 #NAW2023

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“The most common misconception about apprenticeships is that they are for young people only, starting out their careers,” says Matt Bungay, Head of Apprenticeships at City, University of London. “The eldest apprentice I worked with was 74 and it was the first qualification she had received in her life!”

This trend of continued learning at all life stages is reflected in the ‘Skills for Life’ theme selected to celebrate the 16th edition of National Apprenticeship Week, which took place from Monday 6 February to Sunday 12 February 2023.

Government data on apprenticeships and traineeships for 2022/23 found advanced apprenticeships (considered the equivalent of two A-levels) accounted for 42% of starters in this academic cycle; while higher apprenticeships (considered to be equivalent to university-level learning) accounted for 34% of new starters.

City’s five apprenticeship programmes provide training at all levels, ranging from nursing and solicitor training for apprentices straight out of school, to management training for senior executives and medical doctors looking to enter leadership roles, with over 500 students currently learning through the apprenticeship route.

Earlier this week, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan announced changes to the apprenticeship application process, in which apprenticeship applications will be devolved within the traditional UCAS application system used for university courses.

Dr Sionade Robinson, Vice-President of Enterprise, Engagement & Employability, welcomes this change. She said:

By promoting technical and vocational education on an equal footing with traditional academic routes to the job market, the government is seeking to address the national skills gap.

Apprenticeships are not simply for young people, they also offer career development and acceleration for those already in work.

City’s highly dynamic apprenticeship team works closely with employers to increase access to City’s research-informed education, which helps all our students build successful and fulfilling careers and develop as leaders for the world of work.

As the University for business, practice and the professions, I expect this area of our strategic purpose to grow significantly in the coming years.”

ITN Business interviews Matt Bungay, Head of Apprenticeships and Dr Sionade Robinson, Vice-President of Enterprise, Engagement & Employability, about apprenticeships at City, University of London

Apprenticeships designed to respond to business needs

City has honed in on apprenticeships that reflect current business needs. The programmes are tailored to benefit the apprentice in their professional development as well as the employer in their business needs.

Matt has seen a plethora of success stories from City’s graduates and said: “City’s apprenticeships have supported our apprentices in achieving promotions to Managing Director and CEO positions; and we’ve trained medical doctors and fully qualified solicitors.”

Careers transformed through apprenticeships

Matt is a strong proponent of apprenticeships. The scheme has a personal significance to him because he trained as a professional chef through the apprenticeship route, citing a desire to enter the workforce earlier, and has now worked in apprenticeships in a director role for six years.

An additional benefit of the apprenticeship scheme is that there is no cost to the apprentice when employers pay into the levy funding scheme and they earn while studying.

For many students, the experience is transformative. Lucy Wombwell is studying for the solicitor apprenticeship programme and currently works as a Solicitor Apprentice at North Tyneside Council.

Lucy Wombwell, Solicitor Apprentice

She said:

I started my journey as an 18 year-old with very limited legal knowledge and experience. Six years down the line I've been able to obtain a law degree without any student debt.

I’ve gained a great deal of valuable experience, built my legal knowledge and put it into practice, made connections with other legal professionals, and I've been fortunate enough to do all of this while earning a salary.

It's a brilliant opportunity and something I'm very grateful to have experienced.

Krista de Four is the Director of Pathology Operations UK at Unilabs, and graduated with an Executive Master’s in Leadership in 2022.

Krista de Four graduates with an Executive Master's in Leadership at the Barbican Centre

She said:

I started my apprenticeship at Bayes Business School (formerly Cass) in September 2020, in the middle of the pandemic.

Having done a master's before this one was different as I was also an apprentice!

The module topics were very much applicable to my needs and met standards set by the Chartered Managers Institute (CMI). We were assigned a professional coach and had tripartite meetings with the university and line manager to ensure that the learnings were being applied at work for the duration of the course.

This experience has meant a lot to me. I have met some great people and graduated with the confidence to apply my learnings to my new role and company which I started during the course.