AELP Conference 2016 – Youth Ambassador’s Perspective

by Michael Tran - YEUK Youth Ambassador

Michael had the opportunity to attend AELP's annual conference as a YEUK Youth Ambassador, and was also invited to contribute to some of the activities there. This is his experience and thoughts on the day.

The AELP (Association of Employment and Learning Providers) National Conference 2016 was opened by chairman Martin Dunford OBE.

Following discussions on the Apprenticeship Levy proposal, EU referendum results and the 3 million apprenticeship target, I was shocked to hear that some regarded Level 2 apprenticeships as low quality courses. Even Nick Boles MP and Skills Minister recognised that apprentices are still being seen by some as people with low levels of ambition, which meant more work was needed on the “transformation in public attitudes” on apprenticeships.

During the Q&A, an audience member asked whether Education was about getting people into employment or whether it was about educating. This question has been raised in previous conferences and my view is that employers are still prioritising experience over qualification. It is important that any qualification is flexible in understanding the market and employer’s needs, but should be careful not to omit the core academia aspects of education, so that the pupil understands how to go forward in their working life.

Several ‘vote’ surveys were conducted at the venue. When the audience were asked whether they believed a chartered body would help the FE sector, only 6% were interested in signing up to it, despite The Rt. Hon. Lord Longfield DLitt EdD DL talking about The Chartered Institution for Further Education earlier.

This was followed by Nichola Hay from Outsource Training & Development and Martha Jennings from Sky demonstrating what good partnership looks like between a major employer and a training provider. Outsource Training has responsibility over training, mentoring, and outreach programmes within the Sky Academy. Places are so effective and popular that vacancies for the scheme are closed less than an hour of going live.

One of the last speakers was Doug Strycharczyk of AQR introducing the audience to “mental toughness”. It is a transferable concept that could be applied to all young people, apprentices, and graduates. His examples included strengthening of the mind by teaching them to actively seek lessons from their mistakes, not to shy away from tasks that are difficult but to use them as a learning experience, and changing a comment about a mistake from “I’m not doing that again” to “I will learn from that”.

Finally, I also helped host the OCR workshop, representing YEUK. I briefly talked about my experience of three apprenticeships but recognised encouraging young people to enroll on apprenticeships is a geographical challenge, with each town or city presenting a different job and vacancy market.

It’s good to see key people from the industry and MPs from all parties investing their time into reforming the education sector. Apprenticeships remain a high priority and there is much room for improvement, with quality assurance and apprenticeship framework at the top of the agenda. Employers and providers still need post-apprenticeship plans to retain its apprentices. For younger people, careers advice is paramount and schools and colleges should achieve this by creating partnerships with their local council or businesses to offer work experience in different areas.


Aged 16-24? There are many opportunities to attend and speak at events as a YEUK Youth Ambassador. If you want to find out more, please check out our Ambassador page and get in touch today.

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