On Thursday 20th August RateMyApprenticeship’s first ever virtual Awards Ceremony took place, with over 350 people joining from kitchens, living rooms and offices across the UK.
The Awards are such an important event in the year, as they celebrate the outstanding achievements of apprentices, schools & colleges, training providers and employers in apprenticeships across the UK. And COVID-19 was not going to stop us recognising all the incredible work going on in the sector this year!
We hosted the Awards on Zoom, which kicked off at 3pm with co-founder Ollie opening up proceedings. He was joined by our Guest Speaker, Tim Campbell, MBE and winner of BBC’s The Apprentice.
As the event kicked off and over 350 employers, training providers, teachers and careers leaders tuned in, Tim and Ollie discussed key topics around the future of apprenticeships.
Tim Campbell offered his thoughts on the GCSE/A-Level results fiasco. He said “To all those of you who are upset and distressed by the process, hopefully you’ve got over the anxiety of how the grades were decided.”
He advised students to not focus solely on their results, and instead think about what their results can facilitate them to do in the future. And for employers, he encouraged all to “educate students about what is now possible for their future.”
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Ollie announced the launch of three new initiatives from RateMyApprenticeship in response to the challenges faced by students and employers post-COVID. This includes…
This feature allows employers to advertise the apprenticeships much earlier than previously would be possible, and students can register interest in these roles before applications open. It allows employers to build hype and create a talent pool of students interested in their jobs in the lead up to their roles going live on the website.
A virtual programme that takes 4-5 hours to complete, the Work Ready Virtual Experience was originally created for undergraduates, and launched on RateMyPlacement.co.uk in collaboration with Inside Sherpa and Development Beyond Learning. Now, a programme has been designed specifically for school and college students, to help them gain some of the skills that will be crucial in the post-COVID environment.
On the 3rd and 4th February next year, we’re bringing together multiple employers, careers leaders and up to 5,000 year 11, 12 & 13 students, all in one virtual space. RateMyApprenticeship’s Virtual Event is an opportunity to meet students, deliver workshops, presentations and educate students about your apprenticeships.
Everyone had a 5 minute break before coming back for the Awards ceremony. Ollie and Tim took turns to read out the finalists for each category, accompanied by fireworks and music to announce the winners. Who knew Zoom could be so much fun?!
The climax of the event was the unveiling of the Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers 2020-2021, based solely on reviews from apprentices on RateMyApprenticeship.co.uk. Softcat topped the table this year, with 100% of their intake recommending them to their friends. A huge achievement, congratulations Softcat!
Thank you to everyone who nominated and was involved in this year’s Awards. You can see all the winners and finalists on the RateMyApprenticeship Awards website.
Here are the unanswered questions from the Awards that Tim very kindly answered after the event had finished.
Q. Mentors in the workplace are key to all of these initiatives - how do we better target and support them as they are rarely the focus?
A. Mentors are an important element of any Early Careers programme as support for the next generation of talent will only assist them progress. The bit we need to ensure is top notch is the training and matching of mentors to apprentices.
Q. We need more apprentices, this message has always been clear. Let's say that 50% of school and college leavers are going down the apprenticeship route in 2025, do you think that there is enough demand within businesses for that huge quantity of young talent? And how do you think that will effect the recruitment of more mature professionals?
A. I think that the 'fight' between early and mature talent is an over-exaggerated one as they are rarely competing for the same skill based roles that apprentice standards cover. The bigger concern is that new roles are not being created with many apprenticeships being awarded to existing employees. Apprenticeships are focused on both skills development and job creation which will benefit different segments of the UK workforce. The demand question is a great one as I think that with the seismic shifts in our economy young talent will have greater opportunities but for very different roles. Fintech, science/stem, logistics, sustainability, pharma sectors are all going to require lots of talent and skills as they grow through the pandemic and beyond it. Apprenticeships have the advantage of being flexible and adaptive to the business environment - this may be a great opportunity to create some modular skills based apprenticeships which can meet the needs of the market whilst harnessing the talent available.
Q. You have been talking a lot about young people as apprentices but particularly due to the effects of the pandemic, what should the government be doing to encourage people of all ages to retrain for a new career via the apprenticeship route?
A. It is incredibly important that apprenticeships are not perceived or spoken of as a young person's initiative as the evidence shows that they are not. The previous point about the flexibility of apprenticeships is valid here too as employers can up-skill their workforces with skills fit for purpose to respond to the economic shocks many businesses and sectors are having to. Apprenticeships are not a silver bullet but they must be in the conversation for how we come out of this period as strong as possible.
Q. Could Tim suggest his top 3 tips for Y12/13 students to stand out to an employer?
A. Do the research about the company/ role. Have a clear story/reason why you want to take on the apprenticeship. Write a convincing cover letter that is bespoke for the apprenticeship you are applying for and tweak your CV so it incorporates the essential elements that the job description/person specification highlights. Bonus one: Volunteer or gain work experience in something that is linked to the role.
You can watch the Awards in full right here...
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