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Young Apprenticeship programme closes

DfE have decided to close the Young Apprenticeship (YA) programme to new starts.  No great surprise there then but such a shame.

When I did the field review of YA programmes for People 1st a couple of years ago – OK, it was more than that but who’s counting? I was seriously impressed by some of the fantastic motivating practice, with the innovative links between education and industry and, particularly by the inspiring work being done by some employers who really “got it”. The hospitality industry seems uncommonly well populated by highly motivated people who get a real blast from passing on their passion for great products and service to young people.

The opportunities created between West Cheshire College and Raymond Blanc were a shining example. 14-16 year olds spending a very full day with M Blanc’s team discovering the journey from field to plate, actually working in the kitchen alongside the pros and eating in the restaurant at Le Manoir. Those young people will remain positively influenced by that experience for the rest of their lives and may well pass that influence on to others during their careers.

Gary Rhodes with students

The 14 year-old lad from Chorley who had been to the Good Food Show on a visit with college telling me about how the entire group had tasted everything they could get their hands on, including buffalo burgers! I asked him about the difference between buffalo and regular beef burgers. “Aye well”, he said, “Taste is pretty similar but texture is completely different.” I’m sure, now that he has completed his programme, that he’ll make it. It is real shame about those who would have followed on in subsequent cohorts. Instead of tapping into their passion and enabling them to find their element in which to soar, with the best will in the world, they’ll most likely be condemned to a life of competent mediocrity. Tragically, that is about as high as most departmental and ministerial imaginations dare to look.

It was a great programme with which to be associated and the Hospitality programme in particular demonstrated how industry and education could be inspired to work together to create a the buzz and make a real difference, not just in the achievement of grades but in people’s lives. I’m inclined to think that our People 1st team set standards and oiled wheels to show how great the programme could be. We certainly didn’t tolerate those who wanted to offer formula programmes, pretending to be what we knew young apprenticeships could be.

The only consolation is that vocational education has a habit of repeating itself every few years so maybe some will have the opportunity to take it a bit further next time around. Shame about those who’ll miss out in the mean time.

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