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Weymouth College was joined by special guests on Friday to round off events celebrating National Apprenticeship Week 2024.

South Dorset MP Richard Drax, BBC political reporter Tristan Pascoe and the Mayors of both Weymouth and Dorchester were among the guests at a celebration lunch, held in the College’s Bay Theatre.

National Apprenticeship Week highlights the significance of apprenticeships in fostering skills development, bridging the gap between education and employment, and propelling individuals towards successful careers.

The week is held annually to celebrate the achievements of apprentices in their personal and professional growth, with several of Weymouth College’s apprentices and the local employers they work with also attending the lunch event on Friday.

Richard Drax MP chats with local employers and Weymouth College staff at the National Apprenticeship Week celebration lunch

Guests were given the opportunity to network and talk about apprenticeship opportunities with Weymouth College staff, before enjoying a buffet lunch and the guest speakers.

Vice-principal of Curriculum and Quality, Kelly Bush, welcomed those attending. He said it had been a busy and successful week for the College, having welcomed hundreds of potential students and their families onto campus earlier in the week for an Open Event, which included an Apprenticeship Takeover area.

A busy Weymouth College during its Open Event, including an Apprenticeship Takeover

Never too late for an apprenticeship

Matthew Cousens, who started working as an Apprentice Training Coordinator in construction at Weymouth College in September, following a career in builders’ merchants, spoke about his own experience of undertaking an apprenticeship to become a Learning and Skills Assessor as part of his new job.

Matthew Cousens, Apprentice Training Coordinator at Weymouth College, who is also undertaking an apprenticeship himself

He commented: “I found it very nerve-wracking, going back into learning, but the team around me have been really supportive and the content of the course has proved to me very worthwhile.

“I am hopeful that going forward, and working with my mentor and the rest of the apprenticeships team here, I can become the best Apprentice Training Coordinator I can be. My story just shows that apprenticeships are open to all and are a great opportunity to develop new skills.”

Ian Girling, Chief Executive of Dorset Chamber and Governor at Weymouth College, spoke about his own family’s experiences of undertaking apprenticeships and the importance of offering young people alternatives to the traditional educational route of A-levels and university.

His comments were reflected by key speaker Tristan Pascoe, of BBC South and BBC Radio Solent, who talked about how he started his career in journalism and entertained with snippets from his time as political reporter for Dorset.

Tristan was invited as a guest of Richard Drax MP, who has regularly supported National Apprenticeship Week events at Weymouth College. He also spoke about the importance of apprenticeships as an alternative route into future careers and pledged his continued support for the College.

Key speaker Tristan Pascoe, political reporter for BBC South and BBS Radio Solent

Richard Drax MP on stage at the celebration lunch

Helping to shape the future workforce

Speaking after the event, Kelly Bush, Vice-Principal of Curriculum and Quality at Weymouth College, said: “This week has served as a powerful platform to showcase the invaluable contributions apprenticeships make to our community and the economy as a whole.

“Our events have brought together employers, apprentices, educators and stakeholders to celebrate the transformative impact of our apprenticeship programme, highlighting the diverse range of opportunities available through apprenticeships across numerous industries.

Apprenticeships provide individuals with a pathway to gain practical skills, invaluable experience, and recognised qualifications while earning a wage. They not only address the skills gap but also offer a sustainable solution for businesses seeking to create a skilled workforce tailored to their specific needs.

“By nurturing talent and strengthening partnerships between education and industry, Weymouth College is helping to shape the future workforce and driving economic growth.”

Local employers, apprentices and Weymouth College staff at the lunch event in the College’s Bay Theatre

Weymouth College will continue its celebration of apprenticeships at an Apprenticeship & Career Fair on Thursday, 7th March at the College’s Community Sports Centre on Cranford Avenue. The event is open to all from 10am to 4pm and free to attend – book your tickets here:

You can also find out more about apprenticeship opportunities here:

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