I love apprenticeships.

Its 18 years since I was one myself and they’ve been a constant feature of my career ever since.

After some fairly appalling careers advice in school, I was adamant I would never do an ‘office job’ and headed off on a somewhat misguided interior design course. I learnt a lot but I also learnt that it was never going to be a full time career for me so whilst others headed off to university, I reluctantly embarked on an admin apprenticeship. I was soon to find that an ‘office job’ could be hugely varied with many different skills called upon and doors opened.

I’ve copy checked catalogues, coordinated teams of salesmen, been a PA to various different people, worked with factories abroad and imported goods. I’ve coordinated projects, put on events, written bids, delivered lessons and won awards for innovative programmes.

I firmly believe in the power of relationships generating opportunities and that an apprenticeship can get you on the road to building these far sooner. This led me to work with South Hunsley School and Sixth Form to develop the Employer Led Programme which brings employers together to support young people through mentoring, internships and apprenticeships.

One of my proudest apprenticeship moments came whilst working with the Humber LEP where I was supporting a project for young people not in employment, education or training. I put an ambitious idea to the team at Smile to have a Devil’s Kitchen with a difference. We supported 16 young people through the event and brought in a wide selection of businesses to see the young people’s skills first hand. One young man in particular went on to secure a work placement with 360 Accountants. This quickly became an apprenticeship and in fact won Apprentice of the Year at the Golden Apple Awards in 2016. He’s still there now and just hearing him answer the phone brings a lump to my throat.

I’m grateful that Smile also see the value of apprenticeships, giving me time to support schools through my careers governor and enterprise advisor roles all whilst developing our own fantastic apprentice.

Ann Newlove