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NSoA Membership events

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NSoA Membership Events elect a new leadership team

dash mapThe national society of apprentices went on the road in September. Starting on Monday the 8th in Liverpool, stopping off in Doncaster, Birmingham and Bristol before finishing in London on Friday the 12th over 80 people attended our first regional membership events.

We heard about some excellent apprenticeships and some of the great things employers and training providers are doing to get apprentices involved in making their apprenticeships better. There was real surprise though when apprentices on really good apprenticeships heard about the experience of their peers who weren’t quite so lucky.

Each event was split into 3 parts:

Ideas – What are the things that are important to apprentices?

Apprentices spent each morning talking about what issues were most important to them. After lively and energetic debate the apprentices chose the following areas for the society to work on this year:

People – Who should lead the society this year?

A team of 18 apprentices were elected to lead and represent the society for the next year. The leadership team come from across the country and are doing a variety of different apprenticeships. We are really proud of the fact that we have a gender balanced leadership team.

Keep an eye out in the blogs section of the website for more on the new leadership team.

Action – How can apprentice promote apprenticeships?

It was great to spend the week with Tiana from City and Guilds Apprentice Connect. Tiana gave us the low down on their apprentice ambassador programme.

NSoA Travel Research

Posted by nsscot

“Its a struggle to get to work”

busIn March a group of apprentices in Wales were talking about the cost of travel. They were worried that apprentices they knew were spending a significant amount of their income on getting to and from work but weren’t sure this was happening everywhere.

In June and July over 3000 apprentices took part in our travel survey, letting us know how much they were spending, how far they were traveling and how that affected them.

Across the UK apprentices are paying an average of £24 per week in travel costs. The Apprentice National Minimum Wage is £2.73, in that light £24 per week seems an awful lot. An apprentice on NMW would need to start work at 9am on Monday, work all day and then again on Tuesday until 10:20 just to earn enough to pay for travel.

pound“Lack of financial support to help with travel expenses creates a great deal of stress and worry which then reflects and interferes with all other areas of your life. Without a credit card I would not be able to afford to pay the petrol to get me to work and college, but then there is the struggle to pay off the debts that build up.”

Apprentice East Midlands

Download the full report here: National Society of Apprentices Travel Research

Who’s listening to apprentices?

Posted by nsscot

Last week, the newly formed National Society of Apprentices (NSoAS) joined to celebrate Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2014. As part of a series of events held to mark the week, representatives of NSoAS met with apprentices at Edinburgh College to learn more about their experiences.

The number of people getting involved in work-based learning is increasing, with over 25,000 new Modern Apprenticeship starts in Scotland this year. Thanks to this surge in numbers, training providers, colleges and the Government are all talking about the future of apprenticeships.

Yet, little has been heard from apprentices themselves. This is why, on 21 May, NSoAS met with a group of car mechanics apprentices at Edinburgh College Students’ Association, to find out how they would improve their training.

The conversation was reflective of the views of apprentices throughout the country – dissatisfaction with the perceived low value placed on apprenticeships and the lack of representation structures which would give apprentices a voice in how to improve them.

Underpaid, undervalued

The apprentice route can offer many opportunities not available to those studying in a more traditional classroom setting, such as developing hands-on skills and knowledge, industry links and direct workplace experience in their field.

Despite this, many apprentices feel that the apprentice route is not valued by society. According to the apprentices at Edinburgh College, going down the apprenticeship route is still thought of primarily as a destination for those who struggle at school.

“If you’re one of the bad boys at school, you get put into an apprenticeship. If you’re getting good grades, they just tell you to go to university,” said 21-year old David.

This means, that when considering what to do after secondary school, most young people don’t receive enough information about the apprentice route.

Many also struggle with the low levels of wages they earn from working as an apprentice. The national minimum wage for apprentices is just £2.68 an hour, and there are reports of apprentices being paid even less.

Alex, 19, said: “I once got offered an apprentice position which required me to work full days Monday to Saturday, but paid only 60 quid a week”.

He added that apprentices lacked decent equipment at colleges to train with, and colleges and training providers often lacked knowledge of new technologies. Many apprentices saw their time at college as wasted, preferring their time they spend in the workplace.

“At work, I just learn by doing,” Alex said. “I get told to get on with the job, and to ask if I don’t know how to do something.”

Building a voice for apprentices

At the moment, apprentices have no real opportunities to improve their education. Although most students going through the ‘traditional’ education system at college or university are able to give feedback through their class representative system, similar structures do not exist for apprentices.

At the apprenticeship event in Edinburgh, none of those taking part had a class representative, or had been asked for feedback on the teaching they received.

The NSoAS has been set up address this lack of representation. The society aims represent apprentices nationally and enable apprentices to become part of the wider conversation about their apprentice experience. Apprentices should be able to influence the way their training is developed and carried out.

Cameron, 22, said, “(The college) wouldn’t ask us for feedback on these things, because it’s their way or no way.”

We think it’s about time for the voice of apprentices to be heard.

Find out more about the National Society of Apprentices (NSoAS).