Work and Skills

National Apprenticeship Week to showcase how apprentices are building Greater Manchester's future

  • Series of virtual events taking place from February 8-12 to mark National Apprenticeship Week in Greater Manchester
  • More than 20,000 apprenticeships are expected to be created over the next year
  • Organisations including AstraZeneca, Juice Academy and RAF to host talks on opportunities for apprenticeships

Apprentices in Greater Manchester are set to be celebrated through a series of events as employers have told how they have helped their organisations to grow during the coronavirus pandemic.

National Apprenticeship Week, taking place from February 8-12, will this year be moving online due to social distancing requirements with employers such as AstraZeneca, Juice Academy and the RAF hosting talks on opportunities that are available for apprentices.


The theme this year is ‘Build the Future’, with a focus on how apprenticeships are helping contribute to the future of our city-region. Employers and apprentices will take part in a virtual panel discussion, where they will discuss how apprenticeship placements have played a vital part in helping organisations adapt to Covid-19 and how their work benefits Greater Manchester.

There are currently 40,000 people participating in an apprenticeship in our city-region, who range in age from 16 upwards. It is hoped there will be at least 20,000 new apprenticeship opportunities created over the next year.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “I am proud to be celebrating another year of National Apprenticeships Week and encourage parents, carers, teachers and young people to sign up to the upcoming events.

“I believe the pandemic should not prevent anybody from working in the industry of their choice and that everybody growing up, living or working in Greater Manchester should have the same opportunities. Apprentices also play a crucial role in bridging the skills gap in our city-region.

“I encourage those interested in finding out more about apprenticeships to visit the Greater Manchester Apprenticeship & Careers Service (GMACS) which launched last year. The website contains guidance to help people plan, search and apply for future job opportunities. Advice on keeping well and staying connected digitally during the pandemic can also be found here in order to help people progress.”

Councillor Sean Fielding, GMCA lead for Education and Skills said: “Apprentices have supported businesses with adapting to home working and they will also play an important part in building the future of the city-region as we recover from the coronavirus crisis.

“Employers and apprentices have worked together to ensure those on placements have continued to gain their qualifications and further their careers during these unprecedented times. I urge further organisations in our city-region to offer apprenticeships and consider how they can help their businesses to thrive.”

Apprentices have told how their placements have helped open up further career opportunities, while employers have said offering apprenticeships invests in the future and growth of their organisations.

Lou Cordwell, Chair of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership (GM LEP), said: “Apprenticeships offer a huge number of benefits to employers and remain a fantastic option for young people or those looking to retrain. They provide a cost-effective way of developing relevant skills, and apprentices tend to make motivated, loyal employees.

“We expect thousands of people will need to reskill or upskill due to the impacts of the pandemic. Apprenticeships will therefore play a vital role in our post-Covid economic recovery, and will help ensure the skills people develop reflect the needs of businesses.”

Jenny Byrne, 20, graduated with a distinction in her digital marketing apprenticeship at The Juice Academy with Stockport based employer Platform81.

She said: “My apprenticeship with The Juice Academy allowed me to successfully learn the knowledge and insights I needed at the start of my career in a digital industry, taking guidance from experts with years of experience.

“It allowed me to see the possibilities within my role and the industry itself, and what I could aspire to do moving forward into my career. Not only did my apprenticeship allow me to get my foot in the door and succeed in a busy, upcoming industry, it helped me make connections with others at the same level as me who were going through the same experience and learning, many of who I’m still friends with today.”

Amanda Childs, Digital Account Director and Jenny’s line manager, said: “Recruiting Jenny as an apprentice and investing in her continued growth has been a great journey for Platform81 to be on with her. She shows maturity, confidence, and work ethic well beyond her years, and is now seen as an integral part of the team whom we can all rely on for support.”

Some of the activities and events taking place in the week include:

  • Build the Future of GM Panel 10th February – A virtual panel will discuss how employers and apprentices are contributing to the future of Greater Manchester
  • Meet Your Future 8th-12th February – A range of talks from employers such as AstraZeneca, RAF, William Hare and Vizion Network taking place throughout week
  • Apprenticeships and the Workplace with Brother UK 12th February – Greater Manchester Learning Provider Network will be speaking with an apprentice and employer from Brother UK

Last year, 70 new apprenticeship opportunities were created through the Removing Barriers apprenticeship scheme with £328,000 handed to seven local organisations to support them in attracting and recruiting new apprentices. The scheme aims to support young people from underrepresented groups with apprenticeships.

GMCA continues to improve the quality and grow the numbers of apprenticeships in Greater Manchester, with approximately 400 live apprenticeships currently on offer within the city-region. Apprentices are currently working across a range of local growth sectors including health innovation, advanced materials and manufacturing, clean growth and low carbon, digital, creative and media, finance and professional services as well as health and social care, as set out in the Local Industrial Strategy.

The Levy Matchmaking Service, a pioneering apprenticeship scheme ran 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 £3.5m so far having been pledged to support apprenticeships in SMEs across Greater Manchester.

Article Published: 08/02/2021 10:34 AM