Catherine McKinnell, MP and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Apprenticeships, has raised the crucial issue of school leavers being able to easily engage with valuable work experience placements.
More than 40 top level businesses and education establishments were on hand for the launch of a new apprenticeship programme by digital platform globalbridge, at an event hosted by the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) at its national headquarters in Newcastle.
The launch of the Structured Apprenticeship Pathway event saw high profile businesses such as Virgin Money, Barclays and Sage Group, as well as universities from around the region and pupils from 15 North East schools connect at the networking showcase.
Speakers included: Kirste Worland, head of technology applications at NHSBSA; Ben Mason, founder of globalbridge; Sam McLoughlin, business engagement manager at Studio West, a Studio school based in Newcastle; as well as Alistair McDonald, chief executive of the NHS Business Services Authority, who introduced the apprenticeship event.
North East-based globalbridge launched the event with the aim of connecting education establishments and their talented students with career opportunities.
Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North, said: “It is great to see the North East leading the way on making apprenticeships more accessible to young people. The globalbridge platform provides a huge opportunity to the NHS and other employers in the area to engage with school leavers, providing them with valuable work experience and internships, but also connecting employers with their future workforce ahead of offering apprenticeship or degree apprenticeships places.”
The NHSBSA provides central services to NHS bodies, patients and the public, such as managing the NHS pension scheme, digital and technology services, issuing European Health Insurance Cards, and administering payments to pharmacists and dentists.
The NHSBSA, which has a number of apprentices and placement students working for its organisation, launched its own profile page on the platform in August. The page allows it to offer placements, insight and innovation days to students and to connect and engage with schools. The platform is also used to advertise graduate placements, degree apprenticeships and NVQ Level 3 apprenticeships.
The digital facility bridges the gap between students, universities and employers. It allows students to showcase their skills, and engage with educational establishments and future employers, which benefit from gaining access to a database of promising individuals.
One young student, currently benefiting from a placement within the NHSBSA through the globalbridge scheme is Kieren Forrest. Kieren, 16, who attends Studio West, works as part of the Technology department at the NHSBSA two days a week.
Kieren is helping to develop a desk booking system for employees at the NHSBSA who currently hot desk. He said: “I was attracted to the NHSBSA the most because it allowed me to learn real skills that I’m passionate about. It’s been fun so far and I feel like I’ve seen the ‘ins and outs’ of how a business actually works.”
Alistair McDonald, chief executive of the NHSBSA, said: “We welcome the opportunity to engage with promising students through globalbridge, with the hope of bringing more talented young people into the organisation. There are many routes for young people to follow as they start their careers and it’s important we offer a broad range of opportunities for them to develop their skills and experience.”
On a personal note, Alistair added: “If I was finishing my school career now I probably wouldn’t be where I am today – I would have been lost in the system. I left school with five O-Levels and worked a variety of jobs before getting my foot in the door by starting a finance apprenticeship.”
The NHSBSA has forged links with a number of local schools through its globalbridge partnership including Thorp Academy secondary school in Ryton, Gosforth and Kenton School, Newcastle.
Ben Mason, founder of globalbridge, explained the idea behind the structured apprenticeship programme. “We’re launching the first structured apprenticeship pathway through globalbridge. This will give employers visibility of talent coming through the education system and also give schools, colleges, universities and students a more organised structure to access apprenticeship pathways.
“There needs to be more structure to apprenticeship pathways where schools, colleges and young people have more visibility of when and where new opportunities will be available. UCAS is a structured pathway to higher education. However, the majority of students leaving school or college don’t go to university and have no equivalent system in place to engage with their future workplace.
“globalbridge looks to level the playing field for young people by giving them the equal opportunity to access and connect with future options, whether it is university, apprenticeships or degree apprenticeships.
“We are delighted to be working with the NHSBSA who have embraced with both hands the opportunity to connect with education and young people. As a result, the NHSBSA have been in a position to offer a number of internships to potential future apprentices. Through globalbridge, we have also arranged numerous school engagements for the BSA to not only promote their opportunities, but to also support students as they build their globalbridge digital profiles.”
globalbridge is building relationships with government, education and business leaders. Members signed up include the likes of Durham University, Northumbria University, Watson Burton LLP and KPMG, Royal Air Force and EY Foundation.
globalbridge allows young people to showcase their talents and achievements to educational institutions and industry, using their own fully interactive profile pages, while allowing them to search for schools, universities and businesses that offer the opportunities they are seeking. It also provides universities and businesses with a searchable, fully customisable database to identify individuals who satisfy specific skills, interests and goals.