national apprenticeship week

National Careers Service Careers Guidance e-pack January 2020

ncs pack for schools and colleges

National Careers Service E-pack (002)

Click the link to download (8mb)

You probably will have already seen this but in case you haven’t, the latest e-pack from the National Careers Service has been sent out to schools and colleges. With both National Careers Week and National Apprenticeship week approaching, these sort of activity sheets that are easy to disseminate to colleagues can be very helpful. In the age of so many online CEIAG services some of the worksheets can seem a little quaint but not every classroom or tutor room will have a bank of laptops ready to go so there is still a need for these kind of resources.

Live-streaming Employer Engagement activities

The rise of the student focused webinar

There are plenty of aspects of a comprehensive school/college CEIAG offer that can provide a challenge of budget, planning and delivery. Any Careers Leader will encounter difficulties to overcome to meet any of the Gatsby Benchmarks but the one that requires the greatest collaboration, outreach and organisation is perhaps Benchmark 5 “Encounters with Employers and Employees”. Finding willing volunteers from worlds of work that have some enticement for your learners and those who are able to interact positively with young people takes time, finding a suitable time slot around curriculum needs and their own commitments takes patience and negotiation and helping the learners place the information into context takes skill and follow-up. From the employer’s side there is also much to overcome, which of the multitude of organisations do they work with to co-ordinate their education outreach, how can they reach the gatekeeper in the school/college, how can they allocate precious staff time away from their roles for this sort of activity?

It seems that one of the growing solutions to help solve these complications is the use of live streaming employer engagement programmes. A kind of webinar for pupils, these offer lots of potential benefits for both employers and CEIAG practitioners and a more immediate and collective experience than CEIAG Vloggers.

For a number of years The Big Assembly has been a center point of National Apprenticeships Week and offers an interactive broadcast for schools to join. It’s main selling point is the communal aspect of the event, even though a teacher could be showing it on a whiteboard to a single tutor group, that group of students would be made to feel part of a much bigger event with pupils all over the country all joining in at that moment.

The Webinar itself is a series of short vox-pop type interviews of employees across different sectors recounting their apprenticeship journey interspersed with some awful voice over sections in which someone appears to be struggling with a bad quality phone line to announce various prize draw winners. At over 40 minutes, this would test the attention span of both of its target audience and the poor teacher supervising a group watching it. It is still available (last years version above) on the Workpays YouTube channel but as a historic resource it offers no real benefits for practitioners to go back to after the event to reuse.

Another offering is the WOW Show. This is a joint enterprise between the Edge Foundation, City & Guilds, the B&CE Charitable Trust and the RSA Academies Trust and offers a similar type of broadcast format with sharp insights into different areas of work with, this time, a studio based presenter tying things up. This seems a much more professionally produced effort even if the presenting style is (to my extremely middle-aged eyes) far too Blue Peter and not enough Alfie Deyes to really appeal to younger viewers. The “audience” asking question segments are also a good idea in practice but in reality turn into the children struggling to keep a straight face for long enough to actually get an audible question out and also show the limitations of generic advice in return.

The RSA Academies Trust have also provided a number of resources for teachers to use with their classes either in preparation before watching the programme or to link to their subject in the curriculum. A well prepared teacher (or, to put it another way, a teacher well prepared by their Careers Leader colleague) could use the WOW Show broadcast as they would any other video resource. This significantly reduces the communal aspect of the broadcast, turning it into just another resource to use as teachers see fit. This places the WOW Show offer as much closer to other video based CEIAG resources such as icould or Careersbox. This diminishes the value of the resource as the variety of careers and labour market information available through icould for example just isn’t present to aid guidance and context for learners.

An employment sector also utilising this technology to connect with students is the Construction sector through their Construction Live events. It’s positive that a sector is showing initiative to connect with education and especially a sector that has struggled to provide other connecting opportunities such as work experience and employer visits in the past. Here a Chat facility is the main method for providing interaction with the audience.


This is a fairly new trend in CEIAG embracing fairly new technology so research of impact on students seems limited but the Careers & Enterprise Company’s “What Works” series does include a publication on Careers websites which includes those sites utilising videos for CEIAG learning. The evidence relatable to live streams concludes that

Information-based career websites need to exist in the context of a wider offline
careers support program

to have the most impact but also that online support that facilitates communication

can lead to positive outcomes such as gains in career decidedness and self-knowledge, gains in satisfaction with future career prospects, and in career exploration behaviours.

This explains how important the interactive nature of CEIAG live streams and follow up from CEIAG staff in the educational setting are to their success.

To counter those positive findings is evidence from wider technology in Education studies

Which seems to suggest that having delivery from a practitioner in the room helps students attainment rather than experiencing the delivery remotely either at the same time or later. Could this be relatable to CEIAG provision by suggesting that employers ineraction with young people has more value if those employers are in the room?

Convenience or Impact

For employers looking to efficiently use their staff for educational outreach work, CEIAG live streams seem like a win-win provision to be involved with. For a short amount of commitment it is possible to reach many more learners than, for example, a team of employees would at a school careers fair. For schools, also time pressed and perhaps struggling to make links with employers from particular career areas, they also offer convenience and a quick win for providing evidence that they are offering CEIAG activities. The value of such provision though is still to be determined but the available evidence seems to suggest that what value it offers relies heavily on follow-up work in the school and the quality of interaction offered during the broadcast.



Apprenticeships: A point of view from a Careers Adviser in school


First up; some data.

The most recent year that we have complete data for destinations in Luton is 2011 leavers.

In November of 2011, 12 out of 2546 school leavers in Luton were in an Apprenticeship route. My school had supplied 5 of those. By the Spring of 2012 when another check had been completed the total number had jumped to 37, with 7 coming from Stopsley High.

If we go back to students who left High school in 2008, in Spring 2012 115 were in Apprenticeships. The figures are similar for 2009 leavers.

There are two strands from these figures that I blog about here:

Our Apprenticeship education and IAG programme in school:

Our Careers Education input about Apprenticeships starts in Year 10 with lessons like this

which are generic lessons designed to get students talking about the route and more comfortable with the mix of learning and earning involved.

Since using social media to connect to organisations, I’ve realised there are lots of online resources out there to help so the onus is now on schools to organise these into what they need and then find curriculum time to deliver to students.

Now, I’m not saying that everyone of our  KS4 students will be able to tell you all of the ins and outs of an apprenticeship framework but we try and get the core message across to classes at first and then individually later on.

A massive part of the disconnect with young people and Apprenticeships is the lack of knowledge about them in the general teaching community. We use a wide range of teachers to deliver our Careers education programme so the skills base will be variable and many teachers would be finding out about the route as they deliver the session. There are positives to this as you are automatically spreading the knowledge amongst staff but there is an onus on the Careers lead in schools to help prepare staff to deliver these types of lessons.

Into Year 11:

By this time, face to face IAG sessions are taking place and the students who are interested in the idea of an Apprenticeship are beginning to be known.

We have a white board in our room on which we update possible Apprenticeship route students and their areas of interest and so the contact with home can begin.

We have a great contact at Bedford College who comes in to lead a session in which the students sign up to the NAS site and begin their plan of action of which companies to approach with calls, letters and C.Vs. Our Year 11 Careers fair is also full of apprenticeship providers and employers raising the profile of the route with students. Parents are given a dedicated Apprenticeship presentation at Year 11 revision evening.

As a Careers team, our responsibility is then to be on the look out for every possible opportunity. To keep checking websites, to look on twitter and be on every mailing list we can to be ahead of the game when large scale companies announce their Apprenticeship schemes and to be clued into local links when smaller businesses might have an opportunity.

It’s fair to say though, even with this work, a large amount of possible Apprenticeships come to us through contacts students and their families have made, sometimes on work experience in Year 10, sometimes just through networks of friends.

From this point on it’s a matter of chase, chase, chase. Chasing students to see what contacts they’re making in their own time, chasing parents to pass on online application links and chasing students again to make sure they have called back that plasterer who said it might be taking someone on.

And the chase continues right to the summer break and even beyond. Another aspect which puts youngsters off Apprenticeships is the uncertainty. With a College application it’s all done by Easter, you know what course you would do, what grades you would need and exactly where you’ll be going come September. Chasing an Apprenticeship means putting yourself out there, open for rejection (something teenagers aren’t good at) and with a greater possibility that you won’t get what you want while the majority of your peers have their future seemingly all sorted.

Not that this is a bad thing. Sometimes the path between school and College/Sixth Form can be all too smooth for students and the idea of actually applying for something that they might not get can scare them away from even participating. If we really are committed to training young people for the world of work then surely part of that is applying for jobs and not getting them which happens lots with Apprenticeships at 16.

A bit about those Luton statistics:

It’s not a lot at all is it? 12 out of 1246.

All the headlines are that the total numbers of Apprenticeships are rising but this isn’t the case for starts for under 19s

and that is reflected in the Luton statistics above.

The Government know this is an issue which is why they have floated the idea of ‘Traineeships” as a king of pre Apprenticeship filler

but more learning, no work can’t be the whole answer. I believe there is a need for dedicated school leaver apprenticeship routes at 16, and lots of them. Whatever National Apprenticeship Week can do to increase opportunities will be fantastic because we’ve got about 25 students this year who have expressed an interest in an Apprenticeship. Because Sixth Form feels too much like school to them, because they feel pressure at home to start earning money or because we’ve promoted a great route to them, that’s the path they would prefer and next year, I’m sure that number will rise.

Now, not many of them will get one straight out of school, some will continue applying and will find a placement while at College and some will have given up long before then. But it would be great if more than 5 had an Apprenticeship sorted by November and that’s what now needs to catch up. The demand is there, I can’t promise you the skills are consistent across all those potential applicants but we’re spreading the word and the young people are coming.