Celebrating Bristol apprenticeships on World Youth Skills Day

In 2014, the United Nations General Assembly declared 15 July as World Youth Skills Day: a day when people across the world people highlight the importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship. 

To mark World Youth Skills Day, I want to reflect on the progress and impact of apprenticeships in Bristol and celebrate those who both provide opportunities and those making the most of their new roles.

There are still high levels of young people who are out of education, work or training programmes across the UK, including in Bristol. Without the possibility of accessing these opportunities. Getting our young people into good jobs is one of the biggest challenges we face as a city and one we have to do more to address.

That’s why we are working hard to ensure there has been an ongoing upward trend in youth employment opportunities through local coordination and support for paid work experience and trainee programmes. This is building towards our one city goal, having 100% of young people under the age of 18 being able to access meaningful work experience that has helped them prepare for future employment and/or learning by 2048.

Bristol apprenticeship’s have made a strong comeback post-pandemic. Over the past two years we’ve seen over 200 new apprenticeships begin at the council with 272 apprentices currently active across all services. We’re spending over a million pounds a year to fun these roles and are seeing the rewards of that investment each time an apprentice qualifies and takes on a permanent position in the workforce. We’re keen to share this success too by providing over £400,000 of funding a year to support local SMEs, partner agencies, and the voluntary sector to make use of apprenticeships too and expand the opportunities available to those living in Bristol.

Charlie stands (right) fixing an electrical unit on the wall.

We should celebrate the impact our apprenticeship schemes have made to young people lives and we want to highlight examples of this incredible work.

Like many students in Year 11, Charlie May Haim didn’t know what she wanted to do with her career. She had applied to several different courses, including a Beauty course at her local college because that’s what her friends were doing. It’s only after having a conversation with On Site, she started thinking about the possibility of a job in construction.

In 2016 Charlie became an On Site Bristol Electrical Apprentice with Bristol City Council’s Responsive Repairs Team. Charlie is now a fully qualified Electrician and loves her job. Bristol Apprenticeships opened up a career path she never knew was open to her whilst in school.

Bristol City Council’s Responsive Repairs Team has been working in partnership with On Site Bristol for 13 years to support their annual Apprentice recruitment Programme. 

The Responsive Repairs Team employs over 420 staff including multi-trade teams, trade apprentices, surveyors, and both managerial and back-office support. Each year the Responsive Repairs Team employ between six to ten apprentices across all trades. All apprentices are assigned a mentor to support and guide them in the practical aspects of their role.

Zara Naylor, Head of Service, Responsive Repairs Team says, “Our apprenticeship programme is of great importance to our team and to the residents we serve. A key requirement for us is to increase diversity within the apprenticeship workforce and we do this by taking positive action and recruiting from underrepresented groups.  Apprentices bring with them an enthusiasm, a zest for learning, a fresh perspective and IT skills which greatly benefits other construction colleagues. Apprentices that have been trained by us are loyal and committed, and 95% of our Apprentices secure permanent roles with our team as they become available.”

Seven people from the Council's Responsive Repairs Team stand in a car park

Apprenticeships enable the Council and local employers to provide good quality routes into work with the promise of developing people’s skills and knowledge. In turn, apprentices offer employers the talent and creativity every workplace needs to ensure it reaps the benefits of a modern, diverse workforce.

They also provide opportunities to support communities often let down by “traditional” routes into work such as care leavers, equalities groups, and those living in areas of high deprivation. These communities are often less likely to have the opportunity to enter further education and get access to the funds needed to sustain lifelong learning. For these groups, apprenticeships are accessible means of putting individuals and households on a route towards greater prosperity.

Apprenticeships allow us to break down gender barriers and improve social mobility, providing job access for those that would never usually get the chance and opening young minds to peruse a career they never thought was possible for them.

I want to encourage Bristol’s young people to investigate local apprenticeship schemes, expand your horizons, learn new skills, you are never fully aware of what you are capable of! Find out more here.