At British Engines we believe that our apprentices are the foundation of our business, investing in young people, is an investment in the future of our business. We have trained over 800 apprentices since 1966.

Despite gaining increased attention in the media and being the subject of government policy, apprenticeships still suffer a long held perception that they are a last resort if you don’t get the right grades and you’ll end up in a low paid job in a less than desirable environment.

This couldn’t be further from the truth, so during National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) we will be dispelling these myths and showing what an apprenticeship can offer people.

Firstly, we interviewed Elaine Roy, Group Learning and Development Manager for British Engines to find out where these perceptions still exist and why.

What does your role as Group Learning and Development Manager involve?

As Group Learning and Development Manager I manage the British Engines apprenticeship scheme from start to finish. I work alongside our training provider, TDR Training, who help with recruitment and the development and delivery of the apprenticeship programme.

I spend a lot of my time visiting young people in schools, colleges, universities and at Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) events, to promote the British Engines Apprenticeship Scheme.

When you speak to young people about apprenticeships, what is their general reaction?

Many young people don’t understand what an apprenticeship involves. I often hear people say that they want a qualification, they don’t want to be the office junior making cups of tea or they don’t want to be working in a dark factory on a monotonous manufacturing line, so an apprenticeship isn’t for them. Unfortunately, these are common misconceptions.

An apprenticeship is a route to qualifications through practical work and there is no requirement for tea making. All of our factories are bright and open with the opportunity to work with all sorts of technologies such as robotics, 3D printing and brand new Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machinery. Not all work is shop floor based either; many of our apprentices are involved in product development, project management and design.

What are parent’s opinions of an apprenticeship?

A lot of parents think it is a last resort for people who fail their exams. Personally, I really like to see the parents; it’s great to be able to discuss with them what the British Engines Apprenticeship Scheme involves. Many people don’t realise that their children will have a job, gain qualifications, be paid and have excellent career progression opportunities.

What are teacher’s opinions of apprenticeships?

Unfortunately, a lot of teachers just do not have the time to learn about apprenticeships and the benefits they have, never mind advise students about them. The majority of teachers will advise students to go to university and there is nothing wrong with that, but this is why we actively speak to teachers in schools when we visit. To help them understand an apprenticeship so that they can offer their students more than one further education option.

Why do you think these perceptions still exist?

I think it is to do with education. People just don’t seem to know a lot about apprenticeships and what they involve. What they do know seems to be the publicity around bad schemes that is reported in the press.

What can we do to help people see the positives of an apprenticeship?

I think engagement between businesses and schools is important to help both teachers and students understand what an apprenticeship involves. At British Engines we have STEM ambassadors, they visit schools to explain to pupils first-hand what they experienced during their apprenticeship and the progression routes they have taken. We visit STEM events, schools, colleges and universities throughout the year to educate young people and their parents on how an apprenticeship works and what it involves.

As it is NAW’s 10th birthday this year, we will be featuring some of our former apprentices from the British Engines Group who started their apprenticeships in 2002/2003. Throughout the week they will tell us about their time as an apprentice and why these perceptions should no longer exist.