Apprenticeships...changing the world of work
Latest figures show there are more than 800,000 young people not in employment, education or training in Britain. That's a worrying statistic for all concerned.
Leaving education and entering the world of work or training is surely one of the most worrying times - from students not guaranteed a job, to the anxious parents and even education establishments keen not to lose bright, capable, young people to unemployment.
Many years ago, apprenticeships were stereotyped, possibly sneered at, and seemed only a route to be taken if further education was completely ruled out. In our diverse and rich society now, this outdated stereotype couldn't be further from the truth.
At the end of National Apprenticeship Week I wanted to reflect on how apprenticeships are changing the face of policing and commend Wiltshire Police for leading the way in becoming a forward-thinking employer, determined to modernise its approach.
I'm heartened that the Force is constantly adapting and innovating - managers and individuals are encouraged to come forward with requests for new apprenticeships. Last month the Force welcomed its first cohort of Emergency Call Handler apprentices, who will learn and earn while they train to become 999 and 101 call handlers in our 24/7 Crime & Communications Centre.
In June, we see the first trainee police officers who will study for the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship, in partnership with the University of South Wales. I see this as only a benefit to the force; it is an ambitious training partnership that will benefit our officers, the force and the communities they serve. It also shows that policing is a demanding job which requires professional skills and knowledge.
Apprenticeships aren't new to me. In fact, my working life started when I joined Hoover as a management trainee. As part of that apprenticeship, I spent six months each year working in various departments and six months at college. At the end of the apprenticeship I was awarded a degree, part of which was for a research project on behalf of Hoover.
I had joined Hoover because I wanted to pursue a career in personnel management. But as a result of my experiences at work, and the enjoyment I gained from exposure to the world of business finance, my final project was about predicting cash flow for the company.
As I had only rudimentary access to computing power, I decided to seek a second apprenticeship as a chartered accountant. I joined the city firm of Turquand, Barton & Mayhew as an articled clerk. I worked during the day on audits and studied in the evenings with a block release to college for a couple of months before each exam. After a resit of the final exams, I qualified as a chartered accountant.
So when we talk about apprenticeships, I'm a firm supporter.
Let's not be frightened by policing becoming a graduate entry profession, but we do need to ensure the entry is available to people from a wide range of backgrounds and not based solely on academic ability at the point of entry.