101 apprenticeships open right now!

Well, National Apprenticeship Week and National Careers are upon us, (I know, where is the year going?) and as well as our online workshops with Lloyds Banking Group and Kennedys Law LLP, we wanted to offer your and your students a list of some of the most fantastic opportunities out there right now. We’ve teamed up with notgoingtouni.co.uk who have a wealth of information for students who are considering what they want to do after they leave school. We’ve scoured through their extensive list of vacancies to find the companies with a diverse range of opportunities as well as ones that we think are the most exciting. So, without further ado, and as ever, in no particular order:

SSE: SSE is a British energy company headquartered in Scotland. They are involved in the generation, distribution and supply of electricity, in the the production, storage, distribution and supply of gas and in other energy related services. They are the only company listed on the London Stock Exchange that is involved in such a wide range of energy businesses. SSE offer three fantastic programmes for those who are looking to go straight into the workplace as opposed to university. Boasting a competitive salary, professional qualifications and company benefits, they are fantastic opportunities for any student wishing to get ahead on the career ladder.

1. Trainee Engineers

2. Engineering Craft Apprenticeships

3. IT Degree Apprenticeships


EY: As one of the world’s largest multinational professional services organisations, an apprenticeship at EY is a fantastic start to any career. Currently, they have Apprenticeships available in four areas of the business: Tax, Assurance, Transactions or Consulting. The programme offers a competitive salary of up to £21,500 and benefits, professional qualifications and on the job training, learning and development from day one. Find out more here.

4. Assurance

5. Tax

6. Transactions

7. Consulting


BT: BT is one of the world’s leading communications services companies, serving the needs of customers in the UK and across the world, where we provide fixed-line services, broadband, mobile and TV products and services as well as networked IT services. An apprenticeship with BT will allow you to develop valuable skills, take on real responsibilities, gain new knowledge, achieve recognised qualifications and make a genuine impact – all while earning a salary and receiving great benefits. They’ve currently got 10 fantastic vacancies available:

8. Information Technology Apprenticeship

9. Engineering Apprenticeship

10. Vehicle Technician Apprenticeship

11. Supply Chain Apprenticeship

12. Finance Apprenticeship

13. HR Apprenticeship

14. Business Management Apprenticeship

15. Billing Apprenticeship

16. Cyber Security Apprenticeship

17. Customer Service Operations Apprenticeship


GSK: GSK are a science-led global healthcare company that researches and develops a broad range of innovative products in three primary areas: Pharmaceuticals, Vaccines and Consumer Healthcare. Currently expanding into emerging markets, including those in Latin America and the Asia Pacific region. As an employer of over 100,000 people in over 115 countries, they are a fantastic organisation to work to kick-start a career. Currently, they’ve got 7 openings in various areas of their business:

18. Health and Safety Apprenticeship

19. Laboratory IT Apprenticeship (Scotland)

20. Pharmaceutical Technical Apprenticeship

21. Higher Laboratory Science Apprenticeship

22. Engineering Apprenticeship

23. Finance Apprenticeship

24. Digital and Technology Degree Apprenticeship


IBM: IBM are at the forefront of technology, creating innovative solutions and products that have helped change the world in which we live. From helping doctors develop personlised, more effective treatments for cancer, improving energy production, easing traffic congestion or finding smarter ways to manage the world’s water supply, IBM really does offer a varied and interesting place to work, and a super place to start a career. They are currently taking applications for the following:

25. Business Apprenticeship

26. Technical Apprenticeship

27. Futures Gap Year Scheme (12 month placement) - Technical

28. Future Gap Year Scheme (12 month placement) - Business


Morrisons: Morrisons are a fantastic retail organisation with some equally fantastic opportunities for both school leavers or graduates. Uniquely, and unlike their competitors, Morrisons own most of their own supply chain - meaning they food makers and shop keepers. Interesting, huh? We’ve already mentioned their opportunities in a couple of our newsletters, but if you didn’t already know, the deadline has been extended. Make sure they don’t miss out this time!

29. Degree Apprenticeship - Manufacturing

30. Degree Apprenticeship - Corporate

31. Degree Apprenticeship - Logistics

32. Degree Apprenticeship - Retail

33. Degree Apprenticeship - Supply Chain


Unilever: Unilever are a global business with some well known brands under their umbrella. Persil, Dove, Magnum, Flora, Marmite and Lynx are just a few of them. You can find them in nine out of ten UK homes. Every day, 2.5 billion people use Unilever products! They currently have 22 different vacancies available across the country in one of three areas: Business & Technology, Research & Development and Supply Chain & Engineering. I am not going to list their opportunities extensively in this article (as they can be found here) but these are a few examples of what’s on offer.

34. Business Administration Advanced Apprenticeship

35. Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship

36. Digital Marketing Higher Apprenticeship

37. Data Analyst Higher Apprenticeship

38. Project Management Higher Apprenticeship


Mercedes-Benz: Another household name and one that will surely entice your students. They are looking for rising stars to help drive the future of the automobile industry. They need individuals with an eye for detail and a curiosity for learning how things work. Currently, Mercedes Benz have three apprenticeships on offer available across the country:

39. Heavy Vehicle Technician

40. Parts Operations Apprentices

41. Light Vehicle Technician


Deloitte: The Deloitte BrightStart scheme is open to students who are keen to take a leap into the world of professional service. Another opportunity to earn-while-you-learn at one of the world’s largest organisations. The day-to-day role depends on the area you choose, but there’s no doubt there’s some exciting projects to work on and some real impact to be made. There’s roles available in the following areas:

42. Audit and Finance

43. Business & Financial Advisory

44. Cyber

45. Governance, Risk & Regulation

46. Human Capital

47. Strategy & Operations

48. Tax Consulting

49. Technology


NATS: National Air Traffic Services is the main Air Navigation Service Provider in the UK. Every day, they provide safe and efficient air traffic services to the UK and international airports, airlines and governments. They are currently recruiting in Hampshire for:

50. Trainee Air Traffic Controllers


Magnesium Elektron: Magnesium Elektron is part of the Luxfer Group which specialise in the design, manufacture and supply of high performance materials to technology industries worldwide. They currently have two degree apprenticeship vacancies available with Sheffield Hallam University:

51. Materials Engineer Apprenticeship


Thames Water: Are now taking applications for their engineering apprenticeships schemes. Tasked with ensuring that 15 million people across London and the Thames Valley have access to clean water and waste services is a big job. They’re recruiting now for their workforce of the future and offering a competitive salary, four-year training and the opportunity to get a dual qualification.

52. Mechanical & Electrical Apprenticeships

53. Electrical ICA Apprenticeships (Instrumentation, Controls and Automation)


Balfour Beatty: Balfour Beatty are the UK’s leading construction, investments and infrastructure business. They are behind some of the UK’s largest projects - Olympics Aquatic Centre, Blackfriars Rail Station, Renewable Energy Products - and are searching for some of the best school leavers to join their ever changing business. They have so many different roles on offer, I won’t list them all here, but here are just a few to whet your students’ appetites!

54. Apprentice Construction Management

55. Electrical Engineering Apprenticeship

56. Highways Maintenance

57. Quantity Surveying Degree Apprenticeship

58. And plenty more here


Ocean Elements: Keen to work abroad or explore the world whilst getting paid? This could be the company for you! Ocean Elements have a number of positions available in their three resorts in Greece. Again, they have plenty on offer, so I’m not going to list them all, you can find the full list of opportunities here.

59. Activities Supervisor

60. Sous Chef

61. Activities Manager

62. Flotilla Host

63. Activities Supervisor


Kennedys Law LLP: Kennedys is a growing international law firm with offices and associates across the globe. Established in 1899, they are now the 30th biggest law firm in the UK by turnover. Kennedys are a major supporter of traineeships and apprenticeships and are proud to be a government accredited trailblazer organisation and shortlisted in the Top 50 of the Top Apprenticeship Careers 2015. Over 23% of Kennedys partners started their life in law as a trainee!

64. Paralegal Apprenticeship


The Royal National Lifeboat Institution: A career with a difference! The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is a charity that provides a 24-hour lifeboat search and rescue service, seasonal lifeguards, water safety education and initiatives, and flood rescue response. The lifeboat crews and lifeguards need a dedicated, professional and talented team behind them and they need people to join their team to help save lives every day.

65. Apprentice Technician (Scotland)

66. Marketing Apprentice

67. IT Apprentice

68. Apprentice Technician


HS2: HS2 will be the nation’s new high-speed rail network, connecting North and South. Joining HS2 is an opportunity to help make one of the biggest, most complex and ambitious projects happen. Only available in Birmingham or London, but they have some brilliant opportunities nonetheless:

69. Project Controls Apprentice - Birmingham and London

70. Procurement Apprentice - Birmingham

71. Transport Planning Apprentice - Birmingham

72. Project Management Apprentice - London


RAF: Today’s modern Royal Air Force is the UK’s aerial, peacekeeping and fighting force. It’s made up of impressive full-time Regulars and spare-time Reserves who come from diverse backgrounds and work side-by-side to make a difference at home and abroad. When it comes to recruitment our focus is attracting the best personnel, and ensuring they’re well taken care of during and after their service in the RAF. Regardless of role, gender, age, background or qualifications, they have over 15 apprenticeship careers on offer. Check out just a few below:

73. General Technical (Workshops)

74. Communication & Technology (ICT) Technician

75. Aircraft Technician (Mechanical)

76. Survival Equipment Specialist

77. Communication Infrastructure Technician

78. Check out the rest of the list here


Lloyds Banking Group: Lloyds Banking Group offer some fantastic opportunities for school leavers no matter what level or ability. From apprenticeships to sponsored degree and graduate programmes, there’s something for everyone across every area of the business. A career with Lloyds Banking Group allows you to discover unknown talent and go from education to a career in just one step. They have a range of opportunities available across every area of the business…

79. Data Analyst

80. Fraud Investigator

81. Digital Marketing Consultant

82. IT Analyst/ Consultant

83. Software Developer

84. Assistant Relationship Manager

85. Customer Service Assistant / Advisor

86. Mortgage Telephony Consultant

87. Personal Banking Advisor / Consultant

88. Telephone Banking Consultant

89. Assistant Project Manager

90. Customer Operations Assistant / Analyst

91. Marketing Assistant


Heathrow Academy: Heathrow Airport is one of the largest, single site employers in the UK employing over 76,500 people in over 400 businesses - meaning there is probably a career in there for most people! Heathrow Academy was set up by the airport to help businesses recruit and train their colleagues to deliver excellent customer service and ultimately make every journey a good one. They too have a vast array of vacancies available, but here’s just a few of them…

92. Diamond Drilling and Sawing trainee

93. Freight Operations Admin Apprentice

94. Junior / Trainee CAD Technician

95. Barista

96. Chef

97. Construction Operations Apprentice

98. And plenty more!


Henderson Global Investors: A leading independent asset management firm based in the UK. This organisation provides its institutional, retail and high net-worth clients with access to skilled investment professionals representing a broad range of asset classes, including equities, fixed income, and private capital. They have just one role available in London, but it’s certainly a great step on the career ladder for someone looking to kick-start a career in IT:

99. Higher Level Apprenticeship in Digital Innovation


Santander: An amazing opportunity to join one of the world’s most successful financial groups. They offer industry-recognised qualifications and hands on experience to those looking to jump-start their career:

100. Digital Technology Degree Apprenticeship


Frontier: Perhaps it’s not yet time to jump right into a career, but rather travel the world, explore its possibilities? Frontier are one of the UK’s largest gap year and volunteering organisations and are always looking for young people to join them on their projects. From scuba diving in Fiji to working on a conservation project in Madagascar, there is something for everyone. So, what are you waiting for?

101. Gap year opportunities with Frontier


30 People to know in Apprentice Recruitment 2017

You know what is truly crazy? That it’s already 2017 (and it’s March already) and this is the third article I’ve published with the same name. I’ll leave you to ponder how quickly time flies for a moment…

Anyway, earlier this week, to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week (and National Careers Week) I listed 101 apprenticeships that are open to school leavers right now and following on from that I thought it was timely to do another one of our hugely popular articles - to celebrate the people that make these apprenticeships possible.

I have included individuals from multiple sectors and the wide spectrums of organisations out there - from employers, schools, job boards, training providers and the government. Now, let me stress, there is no scientific process for my collating this list, nor indeed any method to my madness… it is simply a list of people I think are good to know and are definitely worth following.

So, ** in no particular order, ** here we go!


1. Michael WalbyKPMG

I have been lucky enough to present a couple of times with Michael, and he really is a bit of an expert in this field. He really knows his stuff and it’s nice to see someone with a deep passion and genuine care for all the trainees and apprentices at KPMG.


2. Jake McClure; Civil Service

Heading up apprenticeships at the of core government in the Civil Service is no easy task, but one that Jake delivers with the utmost care and professionalism.


3. Karen Handley; Virgin Media

Responsible for delivering the Virgin Media Early Talent Strategy, Karen has a big job to deliver. She’s a great laugh to speak with and is active on social media so a nice one to follow on Twitter.


4. Nicola Standley; Kennedys

Kennedys really know their stuff when it comes to apprenticeships and working with schools and are well ahead of the curve in the legal sector. Nicola is doing a great job of driving this forward and I’ve recently had the pleasure of working which has been really enjoyable.


5. Nicola Turner; HEFCE

Having previously worked in careers at Aston University and now Head of Skills at HEFCE, Nicola’s role is to increase the number of sponsored degrees programmes out there. She is a good person to know and is very passionate about her line of work.


6. Emma O’Dell; BPP

BPP have fantastic knowledge about this space (one of our recent articles discussed Apprenticeship Training Providers: who to choose and what to look for and BBP were on the list) and Emma has played a significant role in this. I’ve seen her speak at multiple events and it’s great to be able to put a face to such a big organisation. She really understands the strategic side of this industry and how best employers can make the levy and apprenticeships work for them.


7. Claire Bennison; ACCA

Accountancy apprenticeships are rapidly on the increase and Claire knows this industry inside out. It’s fantastic to hear her speak - she is well and truly an expert and has some really interesting views.


8. Nick Elwell-Sutton; Clyde & Co.

Nick knows employment law inside out. He’s a commentator on employment matters in the press, including BBC Worldwide, Radio 4 and The Times and is a great one to know when it comes to figuring out hiring of apprentices and the rest of the legalities that comes with it.


9. Cassandra Macdonald; Kaplan

Another organisation featured in our apprenticeships training providers blog, Cassandra is helping many employers implement the changes they need to in light of the apprenticeship levy and just generally get to grips with it all. She is a fantastic source of knowledge, so definitely one to follow.


10. Malcolm Redmond; Whitbread

Malcolm really knows his stuff when it comes to designing and delivering quality apprenticeship programmes as well as engaging with schools. He represents Whitbread on the Hospitality Trailblazer Group, so is a great source of knowledge and a fantastic person to know.


11. Janet Colledge; National Careers Week

Janet is an experienced Careers Advisor and Director of National Careers Week; she understands how to deliver careers informations in schools at both a singular and national level.


12. Rebecca Farmer; Royal Mail

Due to the sheer size of Royal Mail, they inevitably have a huge responsibility and bill once the levy comes into force. Rebecca is driving this work as well as delivering the wealth of apprenticeships at Royal Mail - and doing a fantastic job!


13. Gemma Shooter; London City Corporation 

Gemma has worked at BPP, HS2 and now with City University as one the Apprenticeship Levy Recruitment lead; she is extremely knowledgable in the sector and understands its breadth.


14. Karen Paginton; Aequalis

Previously head of recruitment at KPMG and now a consultant for various organisations, Karen really knows her stuff. She was a super massive help to me in my early days at Class Careers and one of the first people I knew in the industry.


15. Sasha Morgan Manley; Morgan Manley Ltd

Having spent a number of years at Capgemini promoting sponsored degree programme, she has built up an amazing wealth of knowledge is now working on a number of projects for various clients, including Aston University and Lloyds Banking Group.


16. Kat Ward; DSTL

Kat is one of my ‘conference’ friends - we’ve all got them! Everytime I bump into her I have a good laugh and a good catch up about the sector.


17. Kavneet Sandhu; QA Apprenticeships

I only recently met Kavneet but I enjoyed my conversation with her and she has a thorough understanding of the sector, particularly when it comes to marketing apprenticeships. Certainly one to watch!


18. Sue Husband; National Apprenticeships Service

Sue is the Director of the National Apprenticeships Service so it goes without saying she has an inordinate amount of knowledge... that only a mere mortal could aspire to!


19. Richard Hamer; BAE Systems

As Education Director at BAE Systems, Richard works a lot in the apprenticeships space at policy level and around developing trailblazers. He also does a lot of work in schools, both at a primary and secondary level.


20. Anthony Mann; Education and Employers Taskforce

As part of the Education and Employers Taskforce, Anthony undertakes a wealth of research in this area for employers and schools to understand what and how young people think when it comes to careers choices and how schools can best deliver this. I am a keen followers of his work.


21. Andy Gardner; Central Careers Hub

Working with close to 1000 careers advisers from across London and beyond, Andy really understands the school side of this market and how to promote apprenticeships to careers staff in schools and colleges.


22. Kate Llewellyn-Cripps; RBS

Kate has worked the agency side at Hodes, education side with Kingston University and now the employer side at RBS, so she understands every angle of this increasingly complicated sector.


23. Helen Taylor; Mercedes Benz

If anyone has seen me driving around in my almost-vintage Merc, you’ll have no doubt heard about my affinity to this brand (childhood stuff, really!) Mercedes do some great stuff in the apprenticeships space and having recently seen Helen present at the BFI conference, it was great to see how she too is passionate for the brand. She’s a well worth follow, especially if you want to learn more about the L&D side of apprenticeships in particular.


24. Jack Denton; AllAboutSchoolLeavers.co.uk

As the founder of one of the largest job boards in the industry and leading research year on year, Jack is a great person to follow. I find all of his posts interesting and insightful.


25. Lindsay Cotton; Rolls Royce

With over 16 years in the industry, Lindsay is a fantastic source of knowledge when it comes to talent acquisition and recruitment.


26. Tamar Fyne; Capita Talent Partnerships

I’ve worked with Tamar for over a year now, and can honestly say that she is a fantastic individual to work with. She is a dedicated and passionate project manager, with an eye for detail like no other.


27. Gillian Smith; Step Up To Serve

Gillian certainly knows her stuff. Having worked at the Home Office and Civil Service, Gillian is experienced in this industry, and is now using her wealth of expertise in heading up the Step Up to Serve campaign.


28. Ben Jackson; Deloitte

As Head Of Student Recruitment at Deloitte, Ben has a substantial role already and even more so with the levy slowly coming into play. Nevertheless, I know he really enjoys it and is taking it all in his stride.


29. Christos Orthodoxou; Class Careers

Well, what would this list be without a bit of self-promotion? If you don’t already, please do follow myself and my colleague Jasmine, below. Class Careers serves to bridge the gap between employers and school classrooms and is already working with some big partners. We’re regular bloggers, so please do take the time to navigate through my previous posts and I hope you find some of them useful.


30. Jasmine Wheelhouse; Class Careers

Passionate about all things young people, Jasmine is responsible for all our workshop delivery and content creation.


Who's on your list?

I have a large network but I don’t know everyone, please comment your suggestions below.

Apprenticeship Training Providers: who to choose and what to look for [Part 2]

Following the last article of the same title ‘Apprenticeship training providers: who to choose and what to look for [Part 1]’, we offered some step-by-step information on navigating the government’s new register of apprenticeship training providers (RoATP) and key advice on what to look for in an apprentice training provider. The article has garnered much interest across our network and many readers aptly pointed out a few additional tips that we had missed:

  • Lisa Taylor, National Apprenticeship Coordinator at Superdrug: “Definitely ask about achiever numbers, particularly timely achievers that completed in the agreed time frame. Also I would suggest a question around what pastoral support a training provider offers, young people are complex and some need specific support emotionally rather than just academically. Your provider needs to work hand in hand with the employer to advise and provide that support.”
  • Paul Roberts, AXA UK: “I would add "How many apprentices have successfully qualified?", to the list of questions. Lots talk of the number of learners they have supported, but fewer mention the numbers they actually get over the finishing line. As 20% of all Levy funding is held back to the end, it is even more important that you have partners that can consistently deliver success.As with all partnerships, I would also expect the Training Provider to be asking more of the questions. If they don't get a great understanding of your business needs then they're less likely to be able to provide what you need.”

So, without further ado, we have picked three training providers that we think could be worth speaking to, if you are still looking for your apprentice training provider. This list is not extensive, and we’re not saying that they are the perfect provider for you - that is for you to decide. Remember the advice from our previous article - ASK QUESTIONS! And make sure they’re the right provider for you.

If you are interested in learning more about any of the providers listed below, do get in touch, as more often than not I can offer a personal introduction to a member of the team. So, here we go…


Just IT

Just IT have been a leader in IT training and recruitment since 2001. Using their experience in developing skills and qualifications for the digital technology sector, they created an IT and Digital Apprenticeship programme with standards to meet the needs of forward-thinking employers. The programme provides motivated young people with the qualifications, skill-development and support they need to thrive in IT and Digital related roles. Every year, Just IT place hundreds of young people into London companies for hands-on experience of the modern tech industry. Alongside paid employment, Apprentices work with training and career support teams to develop soft-skills and gain important IT and Digital certifications for their future careers. It is a testament to the quality and success of the programme that over 90% of our Apprentices move onto a full-time IT and Digital position.

Sectors: IT, Digital, Marketing

Clients: Just IT are working with tech-start ups to large IT organisations, such as Nomura and Wavex, and household brands like Sainsbury’s and Corel.

Useful resources:



Kaplan has been training the next generation of business and finance professionals for over 70 years, helping thousands of students achieve their education and career goals. Part of Kaplan Inc, they are the UK’s leading global provider of diverse education and training. Their programmes include professional accountancy and financial training, apprenticeship and vocational qualifications and leadership and behaviourial training.

Kaplan combine a history of educational and learning excellence with leading online learning technologies, award-winning study materials and support from the industry’s most experienced tutors and trainers. Courses are available in 21 central locations throughout the UK, meaning they have the largest geographical footprint of any private training provider. They also offer cutting-edge on demand and flexible learning options, enabling students to study anywhere at anytime.

Kaplan have been delivering apprenticeships since 2001 and seen year on year growth. In 2015, nearly 25% of all new Accountancy apprentices started their journey with Kaplan.

Sectors: Accountancy, Financial Services, Leadership and Management, Project Management, Business Administration, Customer Services

Clients: Deloitte, Grant Thornton, RSA, Nestlé and The Civil Service.

Useful resources:

Kaplan regularly hosts events and web-exes to keep clients and interested parties up to date with the latest news and hot topics in the Apprenticeship and Vocational space. We also write articles and research pieces on areas of interest such as:

“Don’t Tell Anybody but…I’m A Graduate on an Apprenticeship Scheme” and their award-winning piece of research on the challenges of School Leaver Recruitment can be found here: https://kaplan.co.uk/insights/apprenticeships



BPP is one of the largest providers of professional apprenticeship training in the UK with a wealth of experience in supporting organisations in key industry sectors (predominantly financial services, professional services including accountancy and tax, industry and commerce and law) to set up and establish successful apprenticeship programmes. With 2500+ learners currently on their programmes, they aim to embed professional qualifications and work collaboratively with clients to ensure that corporate objectives are met.

With over 40 years of delivering professional qualifications training, and being a university dedicated to delivering programmes for the professions, we bring a unique insight into the needs of employers, and the expertise to work in an agile manner to develop the right solutions.

BPP provide a breadth of apprenticeship programmes across multiple disciplines and levels for your existing staff or those new to your organisation – joining as work experience students, or as part of school-leaver, apprenticeship or graduate schemes. They are able to embed professional qualifications or degrees into our apprenticeships so you can offer your employees either technical or non-technical programmes ranging from Level 2 to 7 including: degree apprenticeships, graduate apprenticeship programmes and management development schemes, all with progression opportunities to support their future career path.

Sectors: Actuarial, accountancy and tax, business and management, digital, financial services (including insurance), healthcare, HR, and Legal. For more information on our apprenticeship programmes (Standards and Frameworks), visit their website.

Clients: Zurich, RBS, Santander, JP Morgan, Eversheds, Dentons, KPMG, BDO

Useful resources:

As part of NAW (6th - 10th March), BPP are running a series of apprenticeship roundtables from recruitment to programme management, to programme design and delivery. Check out the ‘Engage’ page here to register.

In partnership with Trendence UK and Group GTI, from December 2016 to January 2017, BPP surveys 100 of the Guardian UK 300 employers on their apprenticeship strategies. Their resulting report - the Apprenticeship Levy Study - provides market leading insight on how the some of the UK’s top employers are dealing with the many opportunities and challenges presented by the Levy.


A round up..

As I write this, some content popped up on my LinkedIn page from another apprenticeship provider and it only stood to emphasise my earlier point - that these three apprenticeship providers are not the only providers out there. I offer this information to allow you to do a proper search when it comes to finding your apprenticeship provider: speak to them, meet with them, ask questions! My original article implores you to ask questions and I can’t stress it enough here. It doesn’t matter how many or how stupid you feel they may be, ask them - because the answer might be the difference between choosing the wrong and right provider.


Apprenticeship Training Providers: who to choose and what to look for [Part 1]

This is the first of a two-part article looking at apprenticeship training providers and the selection process for levy paying employers. In Part 2, we will offer some recommendations on providers from our own trusted network.

As we mentioned in our previous levy update article, levied employers will be able to - in fact, must - choose from a new register of apprenticeship training providers (RoATP). Said register has been designed to encourage both diversity and competition in the provider market and support quality and employer choice. This register is a key change and a central to the wider apprenticeship reforms - introduced to create higher quality apprenticeships and more of them. The register of apprenticeship training providers will give employers a level of assurance that the providers they are using have the capacity and capability to deliver good quality apprenticeship training.

Now, let me be the first to say that the majority of that paragraph was borrowed from the Skills Funding Agency press release in October (full version can be found here). What is key for me - and indeed, employers looking for training providers - are these two points:

  • ‘to encourage both diversity and competition in the provider market’ and;
  • ‘to give employers a level of assurance that the providers they are using have the capacity and capability to deliver good quality apprenticeship training’.

Excellent. Yes, I mean that - I think it’s fantastic that there is one place where we can compare the market providers - but will the register be inundated? I did a quick check on the BETA site.

First off, I did a keyword search for ‘Engineering’ and was rewarded with 156 results. Okay, perhaps that was too broad. I retried: ‘Mechanical Engineering’: 131 results. If I’m honest, I wasn’t actually expecting that many results as I had narrowed it down to a specific type of engineering, but it it good to see that the BETA site is simply taking key words and providing all relevant results - you then just have to sift through and determine the exact course and level that you are looking for. I opted for a Level 4 Network Engineer Apprenticeship.

Basically, once you have decided upon what apprenticeship you want to offer - you then can search for your training provider, based on your postcode. After I put in a Leeds postcode, I was presented with 15 apprenticeship providers sorted by distance - the closest one being twelve miles away and the farthest being 120 miles away. I clicked on the first provider and was met with a short bio, plus a rating of employer satisfaction and learner satisfaction (based on the Skills Funding Agency FE Choices) and an achievement rate against the national average.

My review? It is obviously a useful and necessary tool going forward. What I think would make it even stronger is a page where employers can provide unbiased reviews of the service they have received. Perhaps it is one for the future - what do you think? I am sure that many levy paying employers have already experienced this website and are in the throws of negotiating with training providers, but if you haven’t done so already, here are a few top tips from us on getting the right training provider for you and your business.


Choosing an apprenticeship provider: what to look for

Ensuring that you have chosen the right provider is critical for your business; you need it to ensure that you have the right apprenticeship programme, and in turn, the right apprentice to suit the needs of your business. So it’s a big decision. I’ve already discussed above how you can start the process of looking for an apprenticeship provider, but I would advise taking the reviews with a pinch of salt - these reviews only tell one side of the story. Perhaps that apprenticeship provider only delivers apprenticeships that are tough, or they are new to delivery and so their results will build up over time. Once you’ve shortlisted a couple from the database - then I would suggest picking up the phone and asking some questions before you even get to meeting with them.


“Let’s talk about your experience…”

You need to know you’re picking the right provider for the job, so it’s crucial to learn about their experience. There are a couple of key questions here that I think will tell you a lot about what you need to know…

  • What experience do you have in providing training within this sector?
  • How long have you been providing such training?
  • How many students undertake this apprenticeship each year, how many places do you have and how much interest does it generation?
  • Do you have any quality marks or accreditations?
  • What experience do your trainers and assessors have?
  • Do you have any references or recommendations from other employers and are there any I can speak to?


“Let’s talk about money…”

The serious stuff. We all need to know how much it’s going to set you back and whether you are getting your monies worth…

  • What funding do you receive to support the training costs and where does that funding come from?
  • Is this an Apprenticeship Framework or Apprenticeship Standard? How does the funding differ between comparable programmes?
  • Would my business be required to make a contribution and, if so, how much?
  • Can you outline fully the other costs involved, for example, registration fees, travel expenses, materials or equipment?


“So, how’s it going to work?”

Before you commit, you need to know the details. It’s important to get an idea of how things will work day-to-day and in the long run. Don’t be afraid to ask questions - remember, no question is too stupid to ask - you need to know the details.

  • Can the apprenticeship be tailored to meet the needs of my business?
  • How is the training delivered (is it day release, is it on site, etc) and can you deliver out of hours, if so required?
  • What percentage of the apprentices’ time will be spent training?
  • How are individual training needs assessed and how is training altered to meet them?
  • How frequently will you visit the workplace to carry out assessments?
  • Can an apprentice start their apprenticeship at any time of year?
  • Do you have a copy of the Apprenticeship Framework or Standard learning objectives and assessment criteria?
  • Can I talk to any current or ex-apprentices on this programme?
  • What time estimate would you put on an apprentice’s extra workload each week?
  • How will you keep me informed about how each apprentice is progressing?

I would recommend this list of questions as a starting point. At the end of the day, you need to choose the right provider for you - and ensure that you know the details of how it will work on a practical level. Talk specifically about your own business and ensure that you are asking questions that are important to you.

As with all of our blog posts, I scoured the internet for high quality information pertaining to choosing the right training provider. As a small business, we are not in the position to be choosing a training provider, but I know that many of our clients are and often come to us for advice on what to look for, what to ask and indeed, who to go to. I must give credit where credit is due here because I found this list of questions on a website called Apprentice Makers - which I suggest you take a look at. It’s a fantastic resource for employers giving them the opportunity to ask other employers about the training providers they would recommend. You can go on there, search for similar businesses and drop them a quick message to see if they have any suggestions or ask questions in the community forum. http://apprenticemakers.org.uk

In Part 2 of this article, we’ll be providing some provider recommendations and reviews. Watch out for it!


Reading this as an employer?  

Are you prepared for National Apprenticeship Week? If you haven’t already booked in some activity, take a look at our offerings for 2017 and how you can get involved with one of the most talked about weeks in the industry.


Reading this as a school?

Have you seen our new online workshop with Kennedys Law LLP? Taking place during National Apprenticeship Week, it’s an opportunity for your students to learn more about different routes into law and chat directly to someone already working in the sector.

National Apprenticeship Week AND National Careers Week: what's in store?

National Apprenticeship Week 2016: Lancashire apprentice Ben Finch and construction director Keith Collard of Redrow Homes (www.gov.uk)

National Apprenticeship Week 2016: Lancashire apprentice Ben Finch and construction director Keith Collard of Redrow Homes (www.gov.uk)

I know, I know. January is just about underway and we’re talking about National Apprenticeship Week - and that’s in… March, isn’t it? Yes! You’re absolutely right. It is in March. Monday 6th - Friday 10th of March, to be exact.

For those of you that aren’t aware, National Apprenticeship Week this year coincides with National Careers Week and that just means that it’s going to be bigger and better than ever. With both of these fantastic weeks scheduled in the diary at the beginning of March there is going to be an amazing array of activity and buzz all across the country - and of course, there’ll be plenty of news coverage. If you really want to get ahead of the game and ensure that your company is in the limelight for this week, you really need to start planning your activity now. We’ve got a fantastic array of activities going on ourselves and plenty for you to be involved in whether you’re looking to go big or small.

First off though, National Apprenticeship Week, what is it? #NAW2017

National Apprenticeship Week is coordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service and designed to celebrate the positive impact apprenticeships and traineeships have on individuals, businesses and the economy. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the launch of NAW and will bring together employers and apprentices from across England to celebrate the success of the last decade and will seek to encourage even more people to choose apprenticeships as a fast-track to a great career.

And National Careers Week, what’s that? #NCW2017

National Careers Week is run as a not-for-profit company and encourages education providers to bring together students, local employers and advisers through careers events and activities. During National Careers Week it is up to every school, academy and college to offer careers to their students careers guidance: this includes careers fairs, employer visits and building in careers to the curriculum.

“At a time of high youth employment there has never been a bigger need for careers guidance to be promoted and celebrated in education. National Careers Week is your platform to advise and inspire our next generation as they enter the world of work.”

So, how can we get involved?

We’re going to be creating some noise, giving you the opportunity to get involved – and we’ve got something for everyone – big or small, limited time, resource or budget – check out of options below:


Class Careers will be delivering online workshops into schools every day of National Apprenticeship Week – and we want you to be a part of it. If you choose to be a NAW Sponsor, over 1000 schools in our network across the country will hear about you, and have the opportunity to take part.

Your workshop will be open to all year groups from year 9 upwards creating an industry buzz around your brand. You’ll be contributing towards the statutory requirement – all schools have to provide careers advice to students aged 14 and above – and you’ll be engaging directly with students looking for apprenticeship opportunities. 

We’ll will work with you to build an engaging lesson plan – full of stats, case studies and group exercises, before students take part in the individual chats with a member of your team. This will serve as a huge development opportunity for employees and an invaluable experience for all students. We’ll also produce an in-depth report outlining feedback from both students and staff, engagement statistics and a comprehensive overview of student questions.

Full or half day workshops available.

What you’ll get:

  • Dedicated online workshop into school classrooms during NAW/NCW
  • Mention in social media article, included in our newsletters and channels
  • Dedicated page on our website for the remainder of the academic term


We’ve got a strong network of agencies, recruiters and employers and schools. We’re offering an opportunity to take advantage of that, without really doing much!

What you’ll get:

  1. Mention in our newsletter, which goes out to over 1500 contacts in 1000 schools;
  2. Dedicated blog article about your company and the opportunities available; and
  3. Social media coverage, across LinkedIn and Twitter


We’ll be creating a National Apprenticeship Week blog; the aim, to showcase opportunities to school leavers across the country. With around 500 anticipated views, this is an ideal opportunity to promote a key vacancy. You’ll be given a short piece (of around 3 lines) to promote one opportunity available in your company. More than one submission very welcome. All you have to do to submit is drop us a line: chris@classcareers.co.uk




As you know, we're quite the dab hand at video production and both student and teacher feedback shows that the Class Careers video production service is more effective than a standard client video! Your video would:

  • Showcase the variety of school and college leaver roles available
  • Showcase the diverse nature of your company by featuring school and college leavers from a range of backgrounds, ages and genders – and ideally using these same school leavers in the online workshops to add an extra level of peer to peer interaction
  • Demonstrate the journey of a school and college leaver
  • Feature as a pre-cursor to the Class Careers online workshop as well as be made available to use on your website

If you are interested in any of the above options, please do get in touch with myself on 07449984776 or email: Chris@classcareers.co.uk

Top 10 articles of 2016

Well, as 2016 draws to a close, as well as reviewing the year, we thought we’d take a recap on some of our most popular blog posts. We’ve seen many more followers this year and have received some great feedback from industry professionals, colleagues and school staff about these posts. We’ll be sure to keep it up in the New Year, but for now, if you missed any of them, here’s your chance to catch up…

30 People to know in Apprentice and Graduate Recruitment, 2016

We ran a similar post to this on in previous years and it has always proven very popular. It has been shared beyond my immediate network and people are very pleased to be on the ‘list’, though, may I say again, that it was done in no particular order and with no real method to the madness. We’ll be compiling another in 2017, will you make the list?

The Secondary Education reforms you should know about

This article was only just in second place and I think proved popular just because of the sheer amount of education reforms coming in to play this year, and not really a central summary of them all! We scoured google, news sources and policy to bring you this (I hope) extensive list of all the reforms that you should know about. Originally published in May though, there are probably a few more we haven’t mentioned. If we’ve missed anything – let us know!

Plotr’s Liquidation: what can we learn?

This is one of our most recent posts and we were certainly very surprised by the traction that it gained in the industry. I was very keen to learn more about this when another news outlet posted the information but what was really key for me, is not revelling in the failure of a business, but rather to learn from it – to see where they fell down and how not to make the same mistakes myself!

Job boards for young people: what’s out there?

Now, we all know this market is the big thing right now, and since the introduction of the Apprenticeshipy Levy, it’s only becoming more popular - with new companies cropping up all the time and graduate recruiters getting involved. It’s a minefield to navigate for young people, so we’ve picked out some of our favourites.

The latest trends in graduate and apprentice recruitment

It’s only been five months since we wrote this article, around the same time we were blessed with Pokemon Go (hence the image choice for this one!)... But that fad has since faded, what’s still around when it comes to grad and apprentice recruitment?


The new law: Schools must equally promote apprenticeships


Rather self-explanatory really, schools must now promote apprenticeships as much as they promote higher education. It’s been almost a year since this was announced, but have we seen the change in an education setting?


Apprenticeship Levy: The August Update

After much anticipation, the delayed ‘August Update’ provided much clarification on the levy, answering many of our questions. Our posts have provided many with clarity on a pretty hefty official document … and we know, we’re delayed on summarising the October update - we’ll get round to it, we promise!


The youth of today: do we expect too much?

Career choices as early as Year 8, British values, parental pressures, exams, living and learning through social media mistakes… Do we place too much pressure on our young people? Or are we just preparing them for the future?


The Careers and Enterprise Company: what’s new?


After a small period of radio silence - obviously working hard on some important news - the Careers and Enterprise Company announced their Moments of Choice Report and new funding round in October. Since then, we’ve seen the funding round open.


Overcoming apprenticeship application challenges

I think this article is still, if not more, relevant today than it was at the time of writing. I am still seeing a number of employers expressing the same challenges and frustrations with apprentice and school leaver recruitment, and yet, utilising the same recruitment approaches as they’ve always done!


Haven’t read our most recent article?


Oh! Well you must. Back in November, we teamed up with Your Life - a three-year campaign to inspire more students to take Maths & Physics at A-Level - in order to ensure that our future workforce are equipped with the right skills for the jobs available. It was one of our most successful campaigns to date - over 60 volunteers chatted to 849 students, providing 238 hours of one-to-one support in just two days!



A note from us

From all of us here at Class Careers, we'd like to take the time to say thank you for supporting us this year. We wish you all happy holidays, a very happy new year and look forward to working with you in 2017!

238 hours of one-to-one support... in just two days!

Wow. Hello again, dear followers. I must apologise, it has been a long time since we last blogged - perhaps you thought I had dropped of the face of the earth? Perhaps not. No, my disappearance was not because I had fallen into an abyss, but rather that we have seen a very productive, very busy, and somewhat manic November - and unfortunately, a few tasks fell by the wayside - you know how it can be, sometimes. 

Nevertheless, I wanted to kick of December by sharing something a little more in-depth than our usual blog posts, because honestly, we have had a month to remember here at Class Careers - and I want to let you all know about it!

A bit of background...

About eight months ago, we started work with Your Life - and just last month, all of our weeks of planning and scheming came to fruition. For all of those who haven’t heard of Your Life, they are a fantastic organisation with a mission to ensure that the UK has the Maths and Physics skills it needs to succeed in today’s competitive global economy. 

According to the ‘Tough Choices’ report, developed by A. T. Kearney, Your Life and the CBI, masses of young people are put off studying Maths and Science during their years at secondary school. The lack of knowledge amongst teachers and parents about the job prospects of Maths and Science unintentionally result in young people not understanding the skills they require for success at work.


45% of young people claim to choose A levels based on future career aspirations…

… but only 43% have had any formal careers guidance about them.

Your Life operates a year round campaign of activity engaging pupils and schools with STEM employers and careers. Their ultimate goal is to increase the numbers of young people studying Maths & Physics at A-Level by 50% by the end of 2017.

So where did we come in?

As part of Inspiration Week Live, we partnered up with Your Life to increase their campaign reach using the power of online tools. Inspiration Week Live involved two full days of online workshops delivered by Class Careers. Entitled ‘Not Just for Scientists: How Science subjects can fast-track your future’ and aimed at Years 9, 10 and 11 to encouraged them to think carefully about their subject choices at both GCSE and A-Level (the former, as GCSE choices are an imperative step towards A-Level choices)!

Your Life recruited a number of volunteers who were already in industry and were actively using Maths or a Science subject in their day-to-day job. The aim of the workshops was to showcase the vast array of opportunities available using Maths and Science, to enlighten them and to inform them that studying Science really doesn’t mean you’d be wearing a lab coat every day…!

The variety of volunteers were fantastic. Over two days, we saw 64 passionate and inspiring individuals from 30 different companies take part… from start-ups to large corporates to government departments… and everything in between!

As you can imagine, the students - all in Years 9, 10 or 11 (that’s age 13 - 16), asked all kinds of questions to our doting volunteers.

“What does your company do? What do you do on a day-to-day basis?”
“How important is Maths and Science for your career?”
“Did you always want to be a ___?”
“How much do you get paid?”
“How important are GCSE grades when it comes to getting a job / getting into university?”

The key stats

Now I know you’re all dying to know the impact we had on young people across the country, so here are the stats:

  • 849 students reached in 21 schools from Plymouth to Lancaster!
  • On average, individual students chatted on a one-to-one basis with one of our volunteers for a whooping 17 minutes … But some just couldn’t get enough! The longest chat was 45 minutes long!
  • Overall, our total chat time was 14,297 minutes… that a massive 238 hours! Or if you put that into working days… 30 days of support!

Students were surveyed before and after the workshop, allowing both us and Your Life to measure its impact. We found:

  • 10% of students were now considering taking Maths at A-Level
  • 9% of students were now considering taking Physics at A-Level
  • 16% of students felt that they were more informed about which A-Level subjects to choose


What did students think?

‘I really enjoyed it, because I was able to relate to who I was speaking to - we took the same GCSEs and he encouraged me to stick with my subjects.’

‘It was very interesting. I now know that I want to study STEM subjects!’

‘Amazing… I got to know more about careers to do with Maths and Science, and how important they are for life.’


And the teachers?

‘This is a brilliant initiative and one that our students embraced as they felt they could ask anything about salaries, educational background, quality of life etc, without feeling the inhibitions of an audience. The volunteers were frank and enthusiastic and we’d be really keen to repeat this experience!’ 

More information about the Your Life Campaign can be found on their website: www.yourlife.org.uk


You can download the full report on our website: http://www.classcareers.co.uk/schools/resources/your-life

Plotr's liquidation: what can we learn?

It has been revealed last week that Plotr, a company and website set up to help young people find jobs, is in the process of liquidation. Plotr was launched in 2012, aimed at students aged 11 - 24 and was intended to be a ‘one stop shop’ for careers guidance, advice forums and job notifications. It was seed funded by the Government, and set up as a Community Interest Company - in which all profits are reinvested back into the company. The intention was that the site, and company, would eventually become self-supporting as commercial partners and external organisations would pay to advertise vacancies on the site. 

I don’t want to paraphrase too much of the original Buzzfeed article: ‘Company awarded £2m of public money to run jobs website “no one has heard of” goes into liquidation’, as you can read it in full on their website - but what I did want to do, which is probably more useful than just stating the facts, is to delve deeper into the ‘why’ of Plotr’s decline and what we can learn from it.

1. No amount of funding can ensure success

My initial reaction to the news was one of shock. If I’m honest, it wasn’t shock that they had gone into liquidation - we do, after all, live in a competitive marketplace - what shocked me was the sheer amount of funding that had gone into Plotr. Initial funding was £350,000 from the Cabinet Office in 2012 and then £1.3m from BIS in 2014, which was used to relaunch the site with a ‘psychometric careers game’ that aimed to help young people find jobs that matched with their ability. 

I don’t think there really is an industry where you can just ‘throw money’ at a problem and watch it sort itself out. The business model has to be self-sustainable, or it is just going to be a massive drain of resource and accumulation of debt. Of course, the plan here was for Plotr to become self-sustainable, but my question is what work was put in to ensuring that plan worked? It doesn’t seem like there was much. As Tanya de Grunwald, Plotr’s former Head of Content said: “Plotr is actually a pretty decent website. So why has no one heard of it? Clearly, something has gone very wrong.” 

Money isn’t always the answer, nor does it provide a solution to a problem. As a social entrepreneur myself, I can vouch for that - it takes a lot of determination, grit and the will to continually drive the business forward to really make it.


2. It's a saturated market

Sorry folks, the early rec market really is a saturated one. To succeed, you have to be doing something really special or stand out against your competitors - and believe me, there are plenty. The graduate market has been full of suppliers for a while now, and following the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, we are seeing a spike in the number of new solutions to the market. 

There is a lesson to be learned here which is something that leads straight off my first point: you cannot just expect something to work, just because you put it out there.


3. Young people are a difficult target market

If there is anything to be taken from this liquidation, it’s that young people are a very difficult audience to work with and for. In a world of driven by smartphones and apps, young people have a wealth of information and entertainment - you know, pictures of cats and funny fail videos - already at their fingertips, it is difficult to draw them away from that, especially when the subject choice is so, well, so boring. 

Okay, it’s not just me saying that - I have taken this information from a well-respected source, I can assure you. The recent Moments of Choice Report from The Careers and Enterprise Company basically said the same thing: young people need careers advice and information presented in the same easy format as their go to apps: Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. I think if you a driving young people towards a website without interaction in school, then you must have a strong social media campaign - something that Plotr was quite clearly lacking.


4. A 'national' solution is difficult

Again, I am going to quote The Careers and Enterprise Company and say that a national solution just doesn’t work. What needs to happen is a local approach, on a national level and I think the sort of approach that Plotr took was to develop a national strategy that worked in principal, but didn’t work when it came to the different regions of the UK and the differing audiences within them. 

I think the downfall for Plotr is that it was given an influx of cash and utilised that to create a content heavy site relevant to the majority of young people; unfortunately, it lacked the resource and leadership to take it’s - and let me be the first to say it - great content into the real world and in front of the audience it was aimed at. 

What I think would have made this better was Plotr taking the time and using some of that funding to get their solution directly into classrooms - where young people will have accessed it within lesson.


5. The government is not always right

We should all know by now that Government decisions are not always the best ones. There have been plenty of solutions in the past that quite simply haven’t worked - and I’m talking over all sectors here - but somehow, careers advice for young people simply cannot be agreed upon. Following the dissolution of Connexions across the UK, we have seen a mismatched approach to careers guidance - with the next government, local authorities, big businesses, schools and entrepreneurs grabbing a slice of the action and we are perfectly within our right to do so.

My point here is that it doesn’t make something right if the Government gives funding. There are plenty of solutions out there that provide a useful services to young people without government funding - it is a case of finding the right balance, and the right service for the young people.


A round up

As I read back on this article, it started to read like most of the five points I have given as learnings have merged into one. I can tell you now, that wasn’t the intention when I started writing but upon reflection and a second read through, I realised that it was almost inevitable. The situation this industry is in right now is an interesting one, with many companies merely surviving. And this is the bit that is key for me...

A ‘one stop shop’, one-size-fits-all approach simply isn’t the answer. There are many people who’ve tried it over the years and there is a clear pattern emerging and that is failure. Blanket solutions are unable to meet the demands of the individuals they are trying to serve - because these individuals have different needs and simply cannot be approached collectively. I think the key here is that we have to be collaborative - what works for one, might not work for another - whether that is on a whole school, year group, class or individual level. I wanted to leave this one open to discussion in the comment box below, as I’m sure there will be a lot of people thinking about what this means for the industry and some quite healthy debate to be had from each of my points; and if I had to leave on one final comment to sum up my feelings on this, it would be the Career & Enterprise Company’s motto that resonates with me here: ‘work nationally, tailor locally.’

But that's just one man's opinion. What do you think?

The Careers and Enterprise Company: what's new?

For anyone who has been following the progress of the Careers and Enterprise Company, you’ll note that until last week, their ‘News & Events’ page hasn’t been updated since August, when the first report from the Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy was published. 

Now, that’s not to say they haven’t been busy, in fact, I would say that they have been busier than ever. On October 4th, we saw the ‘Moments of Choice’ report published which sought to identify how young people think about careers and, as their headline put it, why are career choices so hard for young people? Alongside this report, they have also published a response, which explores in more detail the assumptions behind the research and how we could better help young people with the career decisions they have to make. It also asks for comments and suggestions from stakeholders: YOU.

And, if that wasn’t enough to digest in one week, they then announced a £4 million fund to help young people into work - with £1 million of that set aside specifically for ‘Opportunity Areas.’

We’ve delved deeper into all of this, so you don’t have to! Below you'll find more information on what's new with them, focusing on evidence, funding and enterprise advisers.

Moments of Choice

Simply, the Moments of Choice Report has found that the majority of young people do not engage in thinking about career options because they are faced with a choice overload: that is, there are too many decisions to make and too many choices available to them. The report also found that young people want experiences that help them understand what it would be like to do different jobs and they want personalised information to help them make informed choices. 

The report follows the two pieces of research which took place between January and March 2016. The first piece of research looks into how young people think about career decisions and how they use that information. The research involved a review of what is known about career choices, in-depth interviews with 35 young people; round table discussions with teachers, employers and careers guidance professionals and workshops with groups of young people to understand how they would like to approach career choices.

The second piece of research was a review of the products and services currently available to young people providing support on career choices. Interviews were conducted with organisations to understand their product development and collect views on additional information they wanted to provide. The research has provided two videos on how best to use LEO (Longitudinal Education Outcomes) data. 

The report found six key findings. Below we have detailed these key findings, and at the end, I have provided my own stance on where I this report sits within the industry and how we can learn from it:

  • Young people find making career choices hard.

Careers and Enterprise described this as a high ‘cognitive burden’ - there are many options out there and there is no easy way to make comparisons between them all. There is an assumption that young people would benefit from making more informed choices, but they tend not to do this as the task of exploring careers information rarely feels worthwhile and useful.

  • Young people understand that making informed choices is beneficial to them, but struggle to answer three key questions.

    - What are the possible careers open to me?
    - What will it be like to do a particular job?
    - What would I need to get there?

    Lack of information is not the problem. The problem is that there is too much information out there from a lot of different sources - which means young people struggle to make sense of it. In other areas of their life, technology allows for young people to be given information personalised for them. The Careers and Enterprise Company liken this ‘personalised information’ to product recommendations on Amazon or suggestions on Pinterest.

  • The research identifies two ways to raise student engagement levels in informed choice:

    Increasing inspiration and desire to know more: Young people struggle with understanding what an opportunity entails - whether that is a job or further education. 
    -  They acknowledged that written information and data is not very effective and young people themselves have said that encounters with the real world of work would be more useful.

    Reducing the ‘cognitive burden’ of choices: More consistent and personalised information can make the task of exploring possibilities more rewarding. This requires better information, guidance and support and an education that builds their confidence in their own decision making abilities.

  • Digital information is fragmented:

    There are around 49 organisations in the UK providing information to young people. The Careers and Enterprise Company acknowledges that there is innovation in the sector, however we are not at a point where young people are able to receive this information in a personalised manner. These information sources also do not integrate into other sources of information - parents, teachers or careers advisors. To do so often relies upon the quality and consistency of careers advice in schools.

  • Longitudinal Educational Outcomes Data can improve quality of information available to young people in a number of ways: 

    By providing longer term earnings information Although not identified by young people as essential knowledge or something that was currently missing from the information that they are given, however, many organisations believe that short-term earnings could be misleading. Organisations have suggested that this information could be useful to share with young people who want to go to university because they believe they will earn more in the long run.

    By providing comparable outcomes data. That means measures of earnings and employment dates about different career paths, and university vs apprenticeships.

    By providing an analysis of routes. Basically, routes are different from education to employment. Routes could be defined by clustering different journeys in terms of types of institutions, subjects studied, qualifications achieved - and then be associated with good and poor outcomes.

There is now a small but growing industry of data-driven careers services. This industry seeks to work collaboratively with the government and the online employment search industry to improve the data infrastructure that supports informed choice.  


Read the full Moments of Choice report here.

Response to Moments of Choice Report

The response is split into sections primarily between the summary, the background and the future plan. Whilst the Executive Summary serves as a very brief outline of the initial report, the background section serves to define the scope of activity, and the final section ‘developing an approach on career choices’ sets out the key issues and how the Careers & Enterprise Company propose to address them.

The definitions are important. First, what defines choice? Let me begin by saying that it is not obvious. As the response explains, choice of university, for example, is usually regarded as being a choice made by the young person. Other examples - such as which secondary school you go to - are choices often made by parents, and other ‘choices’ can be determined by the school - for example, whether you start to think about your career at 7, 12, 14 or 16 and how you go about it.

Choice is typically applied to situations where the choose experiences a high degree of agency, ie. they have options, but can also be applied to circumstances where they have no control.

The Careers and Enterprise company are interested in situations where young people act in ways that are not in their own best interests, situations where they and their advisors may not be aware that their actions might have negative consequences.


Informed Choice is sometimes thought to be a concept that applies only to situations where the chooser experiences a high degree of agency and is competent to make the choice on their own. However, it can equally apply where the chooser is reliant upon external advice (ie. parents for children.) There is a spectrum of choices; from the complex, which require great expert support to the more straight forward, that can be made by most people without help. All choices require information for the individual to consider.


Choice Architecture describes the way in which decisions are presented to people. There is no such thing as a ‘neutral’ choice architecture which has no influence on the way decisions are made.

Young people can face highly edited choice sets presented by their parents, or much less edited choice sets, for example when they conduct career searches online. However, a less edited choice set does not lead to a more empowered individual if it results in an information and choice overload.

Personalisation is central to the creation of good choice architecture and zero personalisation occurs when everybody has access to the same information. Good choice architecture for young people would be one that helped build their confidence in their own decision making abilities.

The final section of the response offers an insight into how the Careers and Enterprise Company aims to address and overcome these problems and ensure that all students make informed choices. They have identified that what they are currently doing is not enough, and state that they need to be working with schools and careers guidance professionals to make the experience more rewarding, and to ensure that young people have a basic understanding of what matters most in career choices. They will do this through their network of Enterprise Advisers.

Their programmes, disseminated by their Enterprise Advisors, will be designed to educate young people but will have a target audience of those who directly interact with young people: schools, colleges, and professionals working on careers advice services.

The key messages of these programmes will be:

  • What matters most: which choices are most important, which have the biggest consequences? For example: how much does choice of GCSE subject matter? How much does choice of institution at 16 matter? Is GCSE Maths more important than a level 3 NVQ? Should you worry about which job you go for or is it important to get any job?
  • What are the most common mistakes: where do people most often go wrong and what is most widely misunderstood? For example: thinking that level 2 apprenticeships are similar to level 3 apprenticeships; thinking that what you study at university is more important than where you study; deciding that there is no point in thinking about a career until you are 15.

he Careers and Enterprise Company have already started communications with Careers England and the Careers Development Institute on 21st Century Careers. They plan to continue to work with their partners and, at the same time, start to address how they can promote research, build consensus and disseminate information to help young people make informed career decisions.

Read the full Response to Moments of Choice here.

Enterprise advisers

Despite not being a focal point on either of the reports, I must add in something here about their Enterprise Adviser Network. The Careers and Enterprise Company have close to 1000 enterprise advisers now in schools, who work with senior leaders to develop a comprehensive careers strategy and ensure students have regular interactions with employers. The enterprise advisers come from a range of backgrounds, but crucially must have the ability and networks to support a school in their employer engagement. You can read more about the Enterprise Adviser Network .

£4 million cash injection: funding information

On October 4th, the Careers and Enterprise Company announced their newest round of funding. The fund will be for £4 million and will aim to get young people into work. £1 million of that funding will be set aside for the Government defined ‘opportunity areas’, which include: West Somerset, Norwich, Blackpool, Scarborough, Oldham and Derby.

These opportunity areas have been determined by the Social Mobility Commission and were announced by Secretary of State, Justine Greening. These areas in particular, it was announced, have particular entrenched barriers that make it difficult for young people to progress. The £1 million fund will be invested into local programmes that can demonstrate their effectiveness in working with young people in need of the greatest support, for example, those with special educational needs and disabilities and pupils at risk of being NEET.

Their ambition is to see every young person in a secondary school and college have four encounters with employers.

Claudia Harris, Chief Executive of the Careers and Enterprise Company said:

“We are determined to improve social mobility and ensure that young people get the right support to transition into the world of work.

That's why we are delighted to announce that we will be investing £4 million into improving careers and enterprise provision across England – this includes £1million for the six ‘Opportunity Areas’ as identified by the government.

This money will scale up many of the existing, proven careers and enterprise programmes and ensure that young people get multiple opportunities to learn from employers through the course of their education.”


A note from me:

Having read through the rest of this report in great detail, I found that much of the information was very interesting and especially complimentary to the work of Class Careers and the rest of the industry, as it provided data to assumptions that are constantly being made. Inevitably, the report has shown that there are many influencers in a young person’s life when it comes to choosing a career or future pathway - and it is something that we, within the industry, constantly battle with: how do we engage the influencers? Parents, peers, teachers, careers guidance professionals all make the list, as well as certain TV shows. This can lead to outdated views from young people, often referring to choices common during their parents youth. Similarly, parents who went to university saw apprenticeships as a good option, but often not right for their child.

For me, the key to this report is finding a way to present a broad range of careers information to young people in a way that they are used to. Aside from parents, teachers and peers, the one thing that is consistently around young people is a social network. Whether that is Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, they have constant access to information without having to look for it. I found the reference to Amazon / Pinterest interesting - and perhaps, this can be extended to encompass all social media; through very powerful algorithms, young people are used to being presented information without lifting a finger. Essentially, we need to get clever with how we deliver careers information because young people are finding sifting through the piles of stuff already out there ‘frustrating and uninspiring’!

I welcomed the Response to Moments of Choice. Whilst there is a long way to go in getting young people to make these informed choices - and the recent funding announcement only goes to confirms that, I do feel that the Careers and Enterprise are making waves in the space and tackling the age old ‘careers advice in schools’ problem with a ground-up approach. I enjoyed reading the research and learning about their approach to this - let’s be frank - inordinate challenge!, and I am looking forward to seeing what stems from this research. Similarly, following the announcement of the funding winners from last year, I look forward to learning more about what the next round looks like.

Please do comment your thoughts in the box below!

Should universities be afraid of apprenticeships?

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It’s that time of year again. Fresh-faced undergraduates (almost half a million of them at time of writing) have bid farewell to mum and dad, packed up their lives and I am sure, by now, tested their liver capacity and learned how to cook something for themselves, (yes, cereal counts!).

As higher education continues to be the choice for young people leaving school, it is quite clear that the environment outside of the lecture theatres and laboratories is changing. The number of graduate level positions has shrunk by 8% in the last year, bucking the trend from the last four years. The government have committed to a target of 3 million students starting apprenticeships over the course of this parliament (by 2020), and measures they have taken have prompted many companies to raise their game and improve their offering to students who would rather not go to university. 

All this is in light of changing perceptions around the attractiveness of university; increasing tuition fees and removal of maintenance grants are just two steps the government have taken that make the university proposition appear less attractive to some, particularly those from less privileged backgrounds. 

In light of these recent developments, one might fear for universities and, in particular, their market shares. If three million students do flood to apprenticeships by 2020, given that there are 366,000 students currently in those positions, this leaves a huge number to fill over the next few years – many of whom would presumably otherwise have gone to university.

But where there is challenge, there is opportunity, and like any business, universities must respond to the challenging market conditions that they are likely to face in the next few years. This seems particularly relevant given the recent sharp increase in tuition fees. Universities are increasingly under pressure to ensure that their students receive ‘added value’, and the challenging conditions should force them to look at their overall offering. This should include careers advice, opportunities to speak to employers, and flexible courses that allow for apprenticeships and placement years. 

Universities have clearly acknowledged this; ‘sandwich courses’ used to be rarely offered by institutions that would pride themselves on their academic offering. This is changing, and should continue to change as universities shake off complacency and review the quality of their overall offering to prospective students. With more young people entering professional environments at an early stage in their career, students who leave university unprepared to enter these environments will find it increasingly difficult to stand out, with or without a degree. 

As well as this, there are many opportunities to universities to benefit directly from the increasing number of students who begin higher apprenticeships. Often, these apprenticeships are taken in conjunction with some kind of academic course – for example higher apprentices at PwC learn on the job, and study for a degree at the same time at one of 4 universities. PwC argue this gives students the ‘best of both worlds’, by allowing them to have the university experience with the benefit of a job offer after graduating. 

Ironically, PwC acknowledging that student often value the ‘university experience’ should serve as a source of reassurance for universities. There will be thousands of students who continue in education because they do not feel ready to enter work life. The appeal of university life should not be estimated, and no number of apprenticeship opportunities will change this. This ranges from the opportunities to learn and research in academic environments, to being able to go out on a Wednesday night with your housemates; there are many facets to studying at university that simply cannot be replicated by traditional apprenticeships – indeed in analysis of Class Career sessions between employers and students, students often refer to the university life, asking if apprentices feel they are missing out on that aspect.

All this suggests that it is in both the universities and employers interests to forge links. This gives universities the opportunity to encourage high calibre students to study at their institution, and ensures that employers are giving their apprentices a high quality education and the ‘student experience’ that is so appealing. 

We often do not think about universities as a business the same way we might think of retail companies or financial institutions, but the basic premise is the same. Threats and opportunities always exist and the better quality institutions who are responsive and recognise the opportunities that are presented will flourish. Most importantly for consumers, as in any sector, increased competition should lead to more choice and a better overall offering.

Our thoughts? 

There is no need for universities to fear apprenticeships, but it should begin to shake off the complacency that has crept into parts of the sector, which is a good thing for all concerned.

A special thanks to Tom Kilbey, Assistant Manager at Lloyds Banking Group for this blog post. 

Careers Events for Schools

With some schools almost three weeks into the new term, I thought I would switch my article focus away from the more heavy, policy focused posts (see: Apprenticeship Levy: The August Update and recruitment focused posts (see: HR and CSR: the perfect matrimony or bitter end?) to something slightly more education focused - and I think, useful! - for all the schools in my network. 

For many schools, as well as a fresh start, September brings an influx of organising and planning, and sometimes, clearing out! I am almost certain that school staff have pages and pages of emails in their inbox, so I wanted to create a post that was not only informative - but also removes one slightly arduous task of scouring the net for events that might be beneficial to them in the upcoming term. So here it is… I hope I’ve managed to cross at least one task off your list, for now!



  • National Apprenticeship Show - North [18th & 19th October, 2016]

The National Apprenticeship Show happens across the country throughout the year. The next one (North) is taking place in Manchester and will showcase over 100 employers offering opportunities and information on apprenticeships to schools, parents and young people. They even have a dedicated evening slot for parents wanting to learn more. 

More information can be found on their website: http://www.nationalapprenticeshipshow.org and don't forget, if you’re not in the North, these shows do happen all over the country - again, more details on their website.


  • Skills Yorkshire & Humber [19th & 20th October, 2016]

    Taking place at the home of Leeds Utd, Skills Yorkshire and Humber is the region’s biggest biggest skills, jobs and careers event aimed at young people. Ideal for anyone making a move from school or college, or getting ready to start work, Skills Yorkshire and the Humber will showcase over 50 organisations offering hands on work-based activities.

    Again, these events do happen nationally - with Skills East of England and Skills South West taking place in early 2017. 

    More information: http://www.regionalskillsevents.co.uk/ 

  • Royal Mail: Online Workshop with Class Careers [Thursday 24th October, 2016: 11am - 1.30pm]

    Class Careers are delighted to be working with Royal Mail to bring you a workshop all about apprenticeships with the UK’s designated Universal Postal Service Provider. Apprentices and graduates from Royal Mail will be on hand during the day to talk directly with your students about the career opportunities available to them following post-compulsory education. 

    Please note: This workshop is strictly Years 12 and 13 only. Places limited. 

    This workshop is only available to schools in: Bristol, Chesterfield, Crick, Croydon, Gatwick, Guildford, Hounslow, Leicester, Norwich, Oxford, Poole, Southampton and Swindon. 

    Find out more here.



  • Tomorrow’s Engineers Week [7th - 11th November, 2016]

Tomorrow’s Engineers Week shines a spotlight on engineers and engineering careers. It is an opportunity to highlight to young people the incredible things engineers work on and the range of jobs available in the industry.

Each year schools, universities, companies, professional institution, clubs and individual engineers find creative ways to shine a spotlight on engineering careers during Tomorrow’s Engineers Week. Here are just a few ideas. To find out about what went on last year, see here.

You can also find out more information about the entire week on their website: http://www.tomorrowsengineers.org.uk/


  • Not Just For Scientists: How Science subjects can fast-track your future [Tuesday 15th and Thursday 17th November, 2016]

    Class Careers is working with Your Life during Inspiration Week. For two full days, your students will be able to chat with Your Life’s ambassadors, as well as representatives from their corporate sponsors to discuss their future career plans and how subject choices at GCSE and A-Level can determine their future. 

    Please note: This workshop is strictly Years 9 - 11 only

    Find out more here.

  • The Skills Show [17th - 19th November, 2016]

    Of course, one of the biggest events on the calendar: The Skills Show. Showcasing an exciting and interactive number of skills and careers, it remains one of the highlights of the calendar. The show features five skill sectors: Engineering and Technology, Media and Creative, IT and Enterprise, Hospitality and Lifestyle and Construction and Infrastructure. 

    Find out more on their website: http://www.worldskillsuk.org

  • PwC: Online workshop with Class Careers [Thursday 24th November; 10.30am - 4.30pm]

    Following our successful workshop with PwC earlier this year, they’re back again to talk all things apprenticeships, school leaver programmes and work experience with your students. We anticipate this workshop to be very popular, so book in early to avoid disappointment. This workshop is strictly Years 11 - 13 only. Places limited. 

    Find out more information here.



Woah. Dare we think about this D-word already? Okay, just one event for now then…


  • Skills London [9th & 10th December, 2016]

Skills London 2016 is London’s biggest jobs and careers event for young people. Two days of interactive activities and inspiring jobs and careers, held at ExCeL London, for 15-24 year olds and their families. In 2015, Skills London attracted 33,026 visitors and featured over 45,000 job opportunities, including Apprenticeships, 200 exhibitors including top name employers, colleges, training providers and advisers.

More information can be found on their website: http://www.skillslondon2016.co.uk

Apprenticeship Levy: The August Update


Back in December 2015 I wrote, one week on, about the Apprenticeship Levy. Whilst the dust settled, I spent a week learning about the levy, reading articles from across the net and gathered as much information as I could, which I could then summarise to share with my network. The levy brought with it much confusion, debate and of course, opinion from across the board, as well as plenty of unanswered questions. We were promised updates in June, October and December 2016, and albeit slightly belated, the June batch of information is finally here.

Again, I’ve left it a little while to allow the dust to settle (and for me to get to grips with it myself!) So, here it is: everything you need to know about the levy update.

A Recap: 

The Conservative Party Manifesto outlined how heavily they value apprenticeships, and committed them to delivering three million more apprenticeships in the next five years. In order to fund this increase, the Autumn Statement 2015 announced the Levy. Donned as a ‘payroll tax’ for big businesses - any company in the UK who have a payroll of over £3m per annum will be subjected to the Levy. And the reviews were mixed; some considered it a step forward, whereas others described it as a “sting in the tail”.

So what’s new? 

Basically, the Government’s most recent piece of guidance details how the levy will work in practice and primarily discusses the changing in funding for apprenticeships. There are in fact, two pieces of information that the government have launched, the first: the Apprenticeship Levy: How it will work document that we’ve all been waiting for, and secondly, a (what I think could be a slightly lesser known document) entitled: Apprenticeship Funding: Proposals for Apprenticeship Funding from May 2017.Whilst the message is primarily the same, the latter document provides much more detail, whilst also offering employers the opportunity to feedback on their proposal. More about that later.