Community-Apprentice paves the way from school to employment

Steve Moseley, Associate Head of Ashton Park School, explains how Community-Apprentice fits into the school’s employability 'Edge' programme.

What employers are looking for

When I set up the Edge programme I spoke to major employers, many of whom are now looking away from graduates as the obvious choice for employees, they want to hire school leavers and are looking for candidates who can talk confidently about themselves, are engaging and interesting

The Edge aims to give students opportunities to help them get into meaningful employment when they leave the school.

The Community-Apprentice programme feeds into this aim seamlessly because it develops skills in young people that we are being told employers want, such as communication and resilience.

There are often barriers to schools developing an employability programme, for us the capacity Community-Apprentice provides makes it all possible.

Ashton Park students at a mentoring session with St. James's Place Wealth Management 

Developing the confidence to succeed

Far too often what we see in our students when they start at the sixth form are young people who lack the self-confidence to interact with professionals. That’s why the confidence and social skills they get from doing Community-Apprentice can be more important than anything. Young people can have a set of qualifications on paper but ultimately when it comes to that face-to-face interview decisions are made on how they communicate and if they have the confidence to talk about themselves.

The work Envision did with one of our students on Community-Apprentice last year directly helped him get a high level engineering apprenticeship at Babcocks, competing against 500 other applicants!

He had always had the ability to do engineering but not to be successful in interviews as he was quiet and struggled to talk about himself. Community-Apprentice improved his confidence and in his interview he talked about what he’d done and how he had helped the community – all of which helped him to get selected. 

For me the most important aspects of Community-Apprentice are the opportunities young people get to interact with professionals through mentoring and activities like the Pitching Challenge. These opportunities to articulate what they are doing to people they don’t know leads to improvements in self- confidence and their ability to sell themselves.

Raising aspirations

We often struggle to motivate our students so that they become aspirational. The challenges on the Community-Apprentice programme are really experiential and open young people’s eyes to new opportunities in the wider world around them.

Getting them to reflect and do these challenges outside of the classroom helps them to see the world in a different light, start thinking about themselves in a different way and consider the direction of their life.

This results in more intrinsic motivation to do well in their lessons because the qualifications they are working towards mean more to them once they have more of an idea of where they are headed.