Today, Monday 3rd February 2020, marks the beginning of the 13th annual National Apprenticeship Week.
Apprenticeships are employability programmes that allow individuals to gain industry recognised qualifications at the same time as gaining valuable workplace experience, and are offered at different levels, from Level 2 (GCSE equivalent) all the way up to Level 7 (Master’s Degree equivalent).
The purpose of National Apprenticeship Week is to recognise, applaud and celebrate apprenticeship success stories from across the country, and for organisations that employ apprentices to promote the huge benefits they bring to the workforce across all different industries.
Wycombe Wanderers Sports & Education Trust (WWSET), the official charity of Wycombe Wanderers FC, are relative newcomers to employing apprentices but are certainly reaping considerable rewards since our first five began with us in September 2019.
It was actually off the back of National Apprenticeship Week 2019 that our awareness about the benefits of offering apprenticeships was raised and we quickly realised that they could be perfect for the charity, as explained by Head of WWSET Paul Foley:
“During National Apprenticeship Week 2019 I happened to read an article on the EFL Trust (the charitable arm of the English Football League) website that was promoting the fantastic apprenticeship programme being offered by Walsall FC’s Community Programme. After a bit of research I was convinced that not only could apprentices assist us with our staffing needs, but more importantly we could offer local young people a great opportunity to gain valuable skills and experience that would provide them with strong foundations to go on and build a career in the community sport and development sector.”
WWSET subsequently decided to recruit two ‘Level 2 Community Activator Coach’ apprentices along with one ‘Level 3 Community Sport & Health Officer’ apprentice, and we worked in partnership with Sport Structures (https://www.sportstructures.com/), a national sports consultancy and education organisation who specialise in developing people and organisations in sport, to advertise our new roles.
Such was the number and quality of applications received, following the interview process WWSET offered posts to a total of five applicants:
- Toby Macmichael, Will Stratford, Jack Fowler (Level 2 Community Activator Coach apprentices)
- Georgia Grou (Level 3 Community Sport and Health Officer apprentice)
- Jason Carr (Level 3 Supporting Physical Education and School Sport apprentice)
Over the past five months each of the apprentices have become highly valued members of the WWSET team. They all settled into post extremely well, immediately establishing strong working relationships with their new colleagues and perhaps most critically, have shown a continued willingness and desire to immerse themselves in both their academic studies as well as their more practical work based tasks. This has led to their competencies rapidly increasing at a rate well in advance of what was expected by us as the employer.
Kirk Williams, WWSET’s Head of Sports Participation, manages four of the five apprentices and had this to say about them:
“The apprentices have been a great addition to Wycombe Wanderers SET in our quest to grow and develop our workforce. We now have more “feet on the ground” in our local community and have been able to engage with more participants on a daily basis. Their enthusiasm to learn and develop their knowledge and experience has been excellent and that can be seen within the sessions they are now confidently delivering regularly within our programmes”
WWSET’s Head of Health Sam Parker had this to say about Georgia Grou, who she line manages on a daily basis:
“I have found the apprenticeship process really positive; we have gained an extremely valuable member of staff who is willing to learn and passionate about what she is doing! Georgia has settled in really well and it has been a pleasure managing her and helping her gain confidence in herself and her future career.”
Georgia herself had this to say about her apprenticeship so far:
“Before my apprenticeship I spent two years at university, but realised this was not the right path for me as I am more of a practical rather than academic learner. Since being with WWSET I have learnt a range of new skills that I am able to apply to different areas of my job, all of which will help me get closer to reaching my future career aspirations. I most enjoy all of the hands on, practical sessions I have been involved in, as well as being part of an incredibly supportive team who are all ready to help me learn. I would recommend apprenticeships as I have achieved so much with WWSET in the 5 months I have been with them, and see them as a great opportunity to grow yourself in a working environment.”
Fellow apprentice Jack Fowler said the following about his apprenticeship to date:
“During my time with WWSET I’ve picked up a variety of skills that I can use within the work place, and out of it. I’ve learnt that organisation is key to being successful, and in addition to this that successful communication makes the team work better.
With WWSET the best part is working with the other members of staff; they are all kind but also super supportive in every aspect of work.
Before this opportunity I was at college studying Level 3 TV & Film. I was quite shy, however now I feel confident and that’s all because of the wonderful support of the trust.
I would definitely recommend an apprenticeship to someone who’s looking to get involved in their chosen industry. It’s something that has really helped my development.”
In addition, Jason Carr said of his apprenticeship experience:
“As part of my apprenticeship I really enjoy being able to deliver school PE sessions, after-school clubs, and sessions within WWSET’s Elite Development Academy. I also enjoy being part of the team and working with different coaches.
During my apprenticeship I’ve learnt new ways to deal with behaviour management and combating any issues in that area, as well as new ways of improving my sessions by using ideas and methods that can be implemented in multiple situations when coaching.
The apprenticeship has given me a real taste for the job that I want to do long-term and given me even more hunger to succeed at the highest possible level. Therefore I’m looking at progressing up the coaching qualification ladder with the UEFA-B next in line.
Based on my experiences so far I would recommend an apprenticeship such as mine if you want to develop your coaching skills and increase your confidence in a leading and supporting coaching role.”
With regards to the future, off the back of the fantastic experience WWSET have had with our current apprentices, there’s definitely a desire to recruit more sports and health related apprentices going forward, as well as hopefully a dedicated business administration apprentice and a dedicated marketing apprentice…
If you or anybody you know may be interested in a future apprenticeship with WWSET then check out our website (www.wwset.co.uk) around April – May 2020 as this is when and where all opportunities will be advertised.