Manchester Met Apprentices visit Westminster

TWO Manchester Metropolitan University degree apprentices visited the House of Commons last week to meet with MPs and discuss their course, jobs and the future for apprenticeships.

Nadia Johnson and Amy Hawkyard, who study on Manchester Met’s Digital & Technology Solutions Degree Apprenticeship, joined other apprentices from around the UK to meet members of the Government’s Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy.

Among the committee members they advised were Iain Wright, Labour MP for Hartlepool, Paul Blomfield, Labour MP for Sheffield Central, and Neil Carmichael, Conservative MP for Stroud.

Nadia Johnson, aged 20, of Westhoughton, an apprentice Software Engineer with Thales UK in Cheadle, Cheshire, told MPs about her first year experience. She gave her opinions on how the government could make the apprenticeships more attractive for future school leavers.

One of the main outputs of the discussion was the realisation that negative perceptions around apprenticeships have not yet been dispelled. Nadia was keen to highlight how important it is to re-educate people about apprenticeships and ensure today’s school leavers are made aware of the many benefits they can offer. Nadia, like other apprentices, is excited about the opportunities presented by this new way of doing a degree.  She said that her compelling work, her salary, which she described as definitely being enough to live on, and the attractive benefits package made her apprenticeship great value.

She also spoke about the social aspect of university as a pull for school leavers, but stated that the apprentices did not necessarily miss out on this. They still enjoyed the benefits of meeting new people on their course during the study days, and they socialise at weekends. Nadia is part of the Apprenticeships Committee at Thales UK and is a STEM Ambassador, going into local schools to talk to young children, especially girls, about STEM Careers.

Amy Hawkyard, aged 21, who is a Junior Project Manager at Astra Zeneca, was also able to share her experience of the degree apprenticeship.

She said: “The apprenticeship has offered me an excellent opportunity to jump right in to the working world. Not only do I get to work in an exciting and evolving industry, but I get to expand my skill set whilst working towards gaining a degree as well as learning about how business works. For me, it has been the best opportunity and I have never looked back.”

Manchester Met is a pioneer in the development of higher and degree apprenticeships, part of the trailblazer programme by the government, which part funds the course fees along with the employers.

The University also delivers degree apprenticeships in Chartered Management, and Chemical Science, together with higher and advanced apprenticeships in Legal Services.

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