With over 30 Apprenticeships on offer South Essex College of Further and Higher Education is fully committed to Apprenticeships, so much so that its Principal and Chief Executive, Jan Hodges, has decided to spend part of National College’s Week (8th – 14th November) trying her hand at two Apprenticeships, helping show the diversity and range available, in two visual and fun challenges.
From the clean kitchen whites of Jamie’s Italian, Jamie Oliver’s restaurant at Canary Wharf, to the oil-splattered overalls of a motor vehicle garage at Grays Service Station, Jan met with two of the College’s Apprentices and got ‘stuck in’, seeing just how far modern Apprenticeships have come and how committed the College is to delivering an exciting range of Apprenticeships to young people aged 16-18.
Jan said: “One of the things that we’re trying to do at the College is offer apprenticeships in newer sectors; some of the sectors like motor vehicle and construction have a real tradition of offering Apprenticeships. We’re working with other employers in newer sectors, for example, with the Royal Opera House for Technical Theatre and backstage skills, with companies like HSBC for Financial Services, Jamie’s Italian with Professional Cookery, and we’re also working with the Port of Tilbury in Logistics. So we’re trying to look to newer sectors linked to the developing economy of South Essex.”
The Government is backing Apprenticeships, which is crucial as part of the country building the skilled workforce of tomorrow. Although not new, many people don’t realise how diverse Apprenticeships can be and how much they have improved for both employers and apprentices.
Grays Service Station
At Grays Service Station, in Grays, Jan donned overalls and steel toe-capped boots and got down and dirty with all things motor vehicles to help change brake pads with the assistance of Grant Poole, 18, from Grays, studying a Level 3 Apprenticeship in Light Vehicle Maintenance and Repair. Guiding her through the process with Grant’s assistance Jan took two wheels off a car, put new brake pads on and then effortlessly put the wheels back on again.
Of the experience, Jan said: “Obviously the apprentice learns a tremendous amount; Grant was telling me he can do absolutely anything on a car. So he gets the full range of experience and he’s learnt a tremendous amount while he’s been here. It’s been really great to get an insight into what the apprentices do. At the College, we’re very well placed to offer Apprenticeships because we have campuses right across South Essex in Thurrock, Basildon and Southend. We’re also very proud of the fact we’ve got the Training Quality Standard, so we know that the training we’re offering is of a good standard.”
Speaking positively about his Apprenticeship experience, Grant commented: “My apprenticeship is preparing me for the future. I am learning key skills such as dealing with customers, ordering parts, taking money and general day-to-day duties. I learn the theory at College and the hands-on experience at work and the two complement each other. These two things will give me the tools to be successful in this industry and one day I’d like to run my own business and maybe I will take on apprentices myself so they can learn what I have.”
On the experience of being two very different apprentices for the day, Jan concluded: “South Essex College really appreciates having good employers like the ones I visited today, where we can work in partnership so that we can offer the students a really good experience and so that the College experience complements the skills they develop on the job.”
And the verdict of Michael and Grant on Jan Hodges being an apprentice’s apprentice? They both replied with a resounding “She’s hired!”