19 October 2018

Robina Shah, Lawrence and Gail - committing to helping young people with apprenticeships.

With Robina and UKFast MD (my wife) Gail at a recent High Sheriff event at the Coronation Street studios.

There’s nothing more important than helping young people get the right start in life. So, how do we help them to build the foundations for a strong career?

Whilst we work with thousands of schoolchildren and students across the region, it is encouraging to see that we’re by far not the only ones doing so. The High Sheriff of Greater Manchester, Dr Robina Shah, has committed her year in the role to young people. Her focus is on listening to them and finding out exactly what they need to thrive.

As part of this, next month Robina launches her second Team High Sheriff event,. The event sees businesses will commit to 500 apprenticeship vacancies for young people across Greater Manchester.

That’s 500 opportunities to get a foot on the ladder. To learn new skills while earning.

I am proud that Robina has chosen to hold the event here at UKFast to help 16-24-year-olds start their journey into the working world and announce these career-starting opportunities.

As part of our commitment to the region’s young people and our work with the High Sheriff, we’re committing to offering 100 technical apprenticeships.

For many years we’ve focussed on hiring more and more apprentices. So much so that 18% of the UKFast team is now made up of current of former apprentices. However, the challenge in increasing this number has been huge.

For some reason, there is still a stigma attached to apprenticeships. Families want children to go to university. That’s still seen as the preferential route when, in fact, apprenticeships are a more than viable alternative.

Choosing the best options

When you really think about it, going to university lands you in huge amounts of debt. You could also very well graduate with skills that are outdated in the industry. We’ve seen time and again that some graduates are leaving university with no knowledge of the working world but with expectations of going straight into management.

apprenticeships at UKFast - Lawrence Jones MBE

With two of our teachers and apprentice Tinisha.

On the other side of the coin, apprentices join the team, often as young as 16 years old, and get straight into a working environment. At UKFast they go straight into the real world of work, supporting clients and doing the job they’ll do when they complete their qualification. It’s not about admin or making cups of tea.

Alongside this, there are soft skills to be learned too. We make sure apprentices spend time learning how to speak on the phone, how to communicate effectively and how to behave professionally. This could be through classroom training, spending the day helping with CSR activities or prepping for an event. Taking time out to ‘muck in’ with whatever needs doing is an incredible way to create leaders of the future who can tackle anything that comes their way.

Join the conversation

The High Sheriff 500 event brings together a whole host of Team High Sheriff ambassadors to share their stories and encourage more young people to follow their dreams. Speakers include our MD Gail, Manchester United and England football legend Michael Carrick, and Coronation Street star Cherrylee Houston.

Manchester Arena bomb survivor Freya Lewis will also take to the stage to share her incredible story of resilience following the terrorist attack in which she was injured. Needing more than 70 hours of surgery to date, Freya defied the odds by returning to school just three months later and running the Great Manchester Run. In total she’s raised more than £60,000 for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, so far. She has also been recognised with multiple awards in recognition of her bravery, courage and commitment to fundraising.

The event is a chance for young people to access opportunities and get their feet onto the career ladder. It is also a rallying cry for businesses. Now is the time to provide these extraordinary opportunities for young people. We need to highlight how incredible the careers that follow these apprenticeship programmes can be.

It couldn’t be easier to join the conversation. Robina is on Twitter if you’d like to pledge your support. If you’re 16-24, you can register for your free spot at the event via EventBrite.

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