I am delighted to post a blog by a young man from Burnley, Matt Seel, who is doing an apprenticeship with the town’s council. He and his fellow apprentices are also taking part in the national competition, the Brathay Apprenticeship Challenge. One of the many elements is to get celebrity endorsement, and to my eternal shame (given how much I loathe the celebrity culture of modern Britain) apparently I qualify! Shame or no shame, I hereby endorse the Burnley Council apprentices, and give my blog over to Matt.

The Real Apprentice…

I am an apprentice. I look good and I hold my phone in front of my mouth, as opposed to against my ear. I talk loudly about why on earth Stuart has ordered 10 boxes of Earl Grey tea, decimating our profit margin. I worry about Lord Sugar and our failure to win a trip in a helicopter to a luxury spa.

I am an apprentice. I think I look good and I barely speak on my phone, preferring to text. I talk loudly about next weekend’s plans, usually in between making 10 cups of tea or coffee. I worry about numbers of sugars in cups and take a trip for some milk to the local Spar.

I am an apprentice. No seriously. I am an actual apprentice, the real deal. I am not the fame-seeker or the misunderstood. I’m Matt Seel, a twenty-year old working in the business team at Burnley Council.

There was a time, early in my academic life, when I was led to believe apprenticeships were for the textbook dodgers: a last resort for those for whom a ‘GCSE’ was both an exam and also their set of predicted grades. Fail. They are the complete opposite.

I had an offer to study Philosophy, Religion and Ethics at the University of Central London but I chose an apprenticeship. I had grown tired of sitting in a classroom. I wanted to do something. I wanted the actions I took to have a consequence. I wanted an entry into the world of work.

At Burnley Council I have the opportunity to push myself; including writing this blog which with Alastair’s endorsement, I hope will lead to our apprentice team winning the national Brathay Apprenticeship Challenge. I have presented in front of over 100 businesses at a Burnley Bondholder event. I am working on projects that are making my hometown of Burnley a great place to be and supporting national projects like the Foodbank too – we have raised almost £4000.

I am one of the lucky ones though. The National Apprenticeship Service recently said there had been a 32% increase in demand for subsidised on-the-job training placements in the last year with 11 applications per vacancy. If you are an employer, create as many opportunities as you can. If you know an apprentice or a family member or friend is applying to be one, encourage them. Do not worry that it’s not university, times are changing and apprenticeships are becoming much broader and more and more apprentices are being kept on by their employers into full-time employment.

In the words of Lord Sugar, I have just been officially ‘hired’ – no six figure salary or wodge of money to start up my empire, but it is proof of what hard work, enthusiasm and the right attitude can bring about and further evidence that apprenticeships, real apprenticeships, can be the best option for a young man like me.