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Apprenticeships are central to UEL’s ambition

Networking event marks National Apprenticeship Week

The University of East London's ambition to become the country's leading careers intensive university will mean a growing importance for the role of apprenticeships.

That was the message from the Apprenticeship Showcase at the Stratford Campus on Thursday when academics, apprentices and representatives of partner business came together to celebrate what had been achieved in the few years since the programme's launch in 2016.

Dr Paul Marshall, pro vice-chancellor (careers and enterprise), said, "We now have nine apprenticeship programmes up and running, subjects across the board, and we have well over 350 students studying here. That's a tremendous amount of success in a very short period of time."

The networking event was staged to coincide with National Apprenticeships Week which saw organisations showcase the role of a form of training that allows participants to "earn while they learn".

With 187 current students, the Nursing Associate programme at the University of East London is focused on widening participation, offering self-funding and apprenticeship routes as a way for those who would not meet academic requirements to pursue funding. The University recently made the shortlist for Nursing Associate Training Programme Provider of the Year in the Student Nursing Times Awards, recognising the growth of its programme since it accepted its first apprentices in November last year.

Dr Marshall saw apprenticeships as an embodiment of the University's drive to create meaningful links with the business community.

He said, "Our apprenticeship offering is absolutely central to that effort. It creates graduates who are ready for the world of work, and it creates an opportunity for us to be working directly with employers. It means that our students are working in that world from day one - they are motivated, and they understand what studying with us will mean for their future career choices."

He said the University's ambition was by 2028 to be "one of the largest apprenticeship centres in London, really delivering for the local population and the business community locally and beyond".

During the evening the University's schools shared their experiences of training.

Programme leader John Macklin presented former teaching apprentice and now qualified teacher Kathryn Handy with a certificate of achievement.

He said, "There are 30 lucky children working with Kathryn and she'll teach another 30 children next year, and that's the beauty of teaching. You see people having a big impact on their communities and a big impact on the families they work with."

Damian Corneal, who provides leadership for Accenture's Apprenticeship Programme, said that the evolving technology meant that companies were looking beyond conventional graduate CVs.

"What we need in technology is young passionate folks who have the right attitude. I tell my colleagues that I am working with UEL because they get it. We're trying to build people who can go out there into businesses and add value from day one. UEL understands that."

In closing the evening, Professor Charles Egbu reminded everyone that he was an apprentice quantity surveyor in the 1980s and "it changed my life".