Work and Skills

43-year-old learner urges others to consider an apprenticeship during National Apprenticeship Week

  • Plumbing and heating apprentice Adam Shepherdson, 43, says: “If I can do it so can you”
  • Apprentices in Greater Manchester are to be celebrated with a series of virtual events during National Apprenticeship Week 2022
  • Events to showcase opportunities for all ages in sectors ranging from digital to construction

A 43-year-old apprentice is encouraging other adults to learn new skills and apply for opportunities during National Apprenticeship Week 2022.

National Apprenticeship Week is taking place from 7-13 February, with a series of free virtual and in-person events, as well as open evenings taking place in Greater Manchester available for anyone to attend to find out more. Employers such as the RAF, SES Engineering and BBC will be taking part in virtual Meet Your Future events.

The theme for National Apprenticeship Week this year is ‘Build the Future’, with a focus on how apprenticeships are helping contribute to the future of our city-region and the benefit apprenticeships can have on individuals, businesses and local communities.

In the last academic year (2020-21) a total of 17,271 people started apprenticeships in the city-region with big increases in sectors such as care services, creative and design, as well as hair and beauty. Figures show 51 percent of people starting apprenticeships were learners aged 25+, demonstrating that apprenticeships are not just for school leavers but open to anyone of any age.

Adam Shepherdson, 43, from Bolton, is currently working towards a level 3 plumbing and heating technician qualification at Bolton College, while working for Bolton at Home. He praised the scheme for helping him to develop new skills and now even has plans in the future to share what he has learned with others as a teacher or assessor.

Adam said: “I decided to do an apprenticeship because I wanted to better myself as I never had a good start in life, and I want to achieve something in life.

“I picked a plumbing apprenticeship as it was something I was interested in. I think I have been really lucky getting an apprenticeship at 43-years-old. So if I can do it so can you.

“During my time doing my apprenticeship I have gained confidence with speaking with customers and group discussions.”

Barrie Hurst, 58, Apprenticeship Advisor at Bolton at Home, said: “Adam has been fantastic. He is a role model among our apprentices. He volunteers to take part in various projects. He is currently taking part in an apprentice group to decide what we’re going to do for our next away day.

“Apprentices are a great asset to any company, they are a fantastic asset to Bolton at Home. We take a long view on apprentices - while they are an apprentice their job is to learn and gain experience. Once they have completed, to be the best at that job, and also to inspire other apprentices that are coming up behind them.”

School leavers are also being encouraged to attend events to find out if an apprenticeship may be for them. Katelyn Dodgin, 18, from Bolton, is currently working towards a Painting and Decorating apprenticeship and encouraged others thinking about doing an apprenticeship to “go for it – you can get far”.

She said: “I have learned preparation skills, health and safety skills, also maths and different things with equipment. I’d like to get a full-time job and get more experience with another company, and then hopefully get my own business.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “It is fantastic to be able to celebrate another year of National Apprenticeship Week and hear success stories from learners. Apprenticeships are a great way to learn on the job while gaining a qualification. They are for everybody in our city-region, no matter your age or background, to gain new skills and develop career opportunities.

“I urge anybody interested in applying for an apprenticeship in our city-region to attend the National Apprenticeships Week free sessions to find out more about the opportunities available.”

Councillor Bev Craig, GMCA lead for Education, Skills, Work, Apprenticeships and Digital, said: “Employers have told how apprentices have played an important role in growing, as well as future-proofing, their businesses. Apprentices are not only good for business - they are also playing a vital role in building Greater Manchester’s economy following the pandemic.

“I encourage employers to think about creating apprenticeship positions and help develop the skills of our city-region’s future workforce, whether you are an SME, a small business or a large company. Greater Manchester’s Levy Matchmaking service is also available to help smaller businesses hire apprentices.”

Some of the events taking place during National Apprenticeship Week include:

  • Apprenticeship myth busting for parents and carers on Tuesday, 8th February
  • Skills for Growth SME support event for employers on Wednesday, 9th February
  • Meet your future career in Health and Social care event on Thursday, 10th February
  • Apprenticeships in the public sector event hosted by GMCA for young people and adults on Friday, 11th February

There are 28 learners in Greater Manchester who have started apprenticeships through The Removing Barriers to Apprenticeships programme, and another 117 engaged on pre-apprenticeship programmes. Funding of £328,000 has been awarded to seven projects that work to support under-represented groups to start apprenticeships. An event for industry stakeholders and training providers will be taking place on Tuesday, 8th February sharing the results of the programme.

The Levy Matchmaking Service, a pioneering apprenticeship programme run by The Growth Company, has also been paving the way in providing apprenticeship opportunities. The service enables large employers with apprenticeship levy underspend to match with smaller business looking to hire apprentices, with over £5.9m so far having been pledged to support 597 apprenticeships in SMEs across Greater Manchester.

Young people (aged 11-30) are encouraged to utilise the Greater Manchester Apprenticeship and Careers Service (GMACS) to explore options for their future. With over 100,000 users, the site is part of the Mayor’s commitment to ensure every young person across the city-region has access to opportunities and no one is left behind. GMACS is a hub of tools, resources, opportunities, events and more, bringing together different stages of the career planning process to help young people.

To register for National Apprenticeship Week events visit National Apprenticeship Week - Greater Manchester Combined Authority (

Article Published: 07/02/2022 10:29 AM