World of work

Students learn to become plasterers with Skills Group.

Students learn to become plasterers with Skills Group. - Credit: Archant

School pupils are being given valuable insights into the world of work thanks to a South West apprenticeship provider

The Skills Group launched an Apprenticeship and Schools initiative two years ago to provide closer links between schoolchildren and apprenticeships, as potential future career paths.

Skills Group currently has 51 apprentices working in more than 34 primary and secondary schools across Devon and Cornwall, either as teaching assistants, PE specialists or business administrators. In total, Skills Group has seen 114 apprentices go through this route.

Mark Boulting, managing director of Plymouth-based Skills Group, says: “While some schools are good at promoting apprenticeships, too many are failing in their duty to provide impartial advice and guidance leaving youngsters unaware of the options open to them.”

Schools, who actively take on apprentices include Tor Bridge Primary in Plymouth. Head teacher Cathryn Thompkins says: “It has been my first experience of employing apprentices and it has worked well. From the apprentice’s point of view, they are getting that first-hand experience of working with young people while still in a learning environment. They are learning as they go along and it greatly helps with their confidence.

“For the children, seeing a younger person working and in a position of responsibility will hopefully encourage them to think about their future aspirations.”

Dean Squire worked for a year as an apprentice teaching assistant at High View Primary School in Plymouth. During that year, it was Dean’s job to assist the class teacher, prepare resources, coach lunchtime activities, work with pupils on a one-to-one basis, as well as running after-school clubs Dean says: “I gained skills that I will use throughout my life.”

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