This year saw the third year of the Shaping Portsmouth apprenticeship programme in association with our main sponsors – Portsmouth City Council, Stagecoach and Portsmouth University, writes Stef Nienaltowski, CEO of Shaping Portsmouth CIC.
In the three years the programme has been running, we have seen the number of Portsmouth schools involved grow. It started with the original three in the pilot year of 2018, to six in 2019 and this year, we had 12 senior schools involved – all wanting more from the programme in 2021.
The number of participating City organisations has also grown. There were five in 2018 which grew to 29 in 2020. The number of apprentices they have provided to the programme has also risen from six to 59 this current year. The number of students experiencing the programme has risen from 84 in year one to 444 this year. There is more interaction and tailored offerings which gives the students the maximum information and advice about the City’s current Apprenticeship vacancies and opportunities.
The iconic use of the Stagecoach Bus is seen as a vital part of the programme, but such is the demand for the information, contact, networking and discussion, we have to hold some of the sessions inside the school halls. Each school visit lasts around one hour, and the students get the chance to hear what the overall apprenticeship programme can offer. The real value is when the students are in groups of three to five and speak with the apprentices and discover what life is really like for them. The noise, buzz and excitement are immense, and we have to drag the students off the bus, or out of the hall at the end of the session.
Each school now plans this visit months in advance and the benefits are incredible. In 2021, the programme will have to be run in accordance with the social distancing guidelines in place at the time, but it is planned to be run over the full five days of National Apprenticeship Week.
The incredibly positive programme is part of the Shaping Portsmouth overall strategy called ‘Roadmap to a Career’ as we seek to build a bond between business and schools for the benefit of both. The local Portsmouth businesses get to link up with talented year 10s and 11s and the students get the chance to find out exactly what opportunities lie ahead of them as they choose their further educational route.
Whatever the rules are around socially distancing in February 2021, we will run this programme within those guidelines and continue to build a ‘Roadmap to a Career’ for our wonderful next generation.