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Roland Martin - Issue #36


Roland Martin

November 29 · Issue #36 · View online

Headmaster - City of London Freemen's school; Chief Officer - City of London; Chair - Society of Heads - '...write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing' Benjamin Franklin

The Apprentice

Not just for Lord Sugar
A guilty pleasure Chez Martin is the reality tv show The Apprentice. We are pretty recent converts to the show having been introduced to it by our teenage son only last year … ordinarily we avoid the ‘making a celebrity’ formula, much to our 11 year old’s distaste when half of her friends seem to be in the know about Honey G and Scarlett Moffatt. We are well aware of the flaws and consequent criticism; the fact that what we get isn’t necessarily what we see. Nonetheless, Lord Sugar’s particular brand of wry, dry, acerbic commentary does have its appeal. I like his rags to riches story, filling a gap in the Hi Fi market of old with Amstrad’s 1980s affordability when all we teens wanted was a cheap as chips ghetto blaster, walkman or stacking system of our own on which to blast out our Smiths tapes or Springsteen cds. Nowadays, we have his show on series record and do enjoy catching up with the antics and faux pas of the egos jostling for supremacy in ‘the process’ (have you noticed how regularly that word is used in the common vernacular these days?) fully cognisant of the programme as entertainment, warts and all.
What’s become of increasing interest to me as a head/educator, though, is the evolution of the modern apprenticeship for school leavers. The YTS of my youth has been consigned to the scrap heap; for today’s hopeful apprentices, there is a much more credible set of options on offer. From The Telegraph recently, the following article busts some potential fallacies: 
Seven common misconceptions about apprenticeships
Degree apprenticeships seem like a pretty decent mid-point option for students who still yearn for the security or experience of university but who know what they want to do next and wish to get a foot up on the workplace ladder. Not merely a throw back to the sandwich courses of yore, with a year out in industry, or the military scholarships some of my peers secured, these programmes look to be clearly thought through and planned with exciting outcomes at the end. What’s more, the government is putting its money where its mouth is, investing in the future of these courses.
Degree apprenticeships awarded multi-million pound fund
There’s certainly a concern among today’s young people that a university education could break them financially. If the government is doing anything to narrow the socio-economic gap in higher education, it’s here. Granted, the Russell group members, the Oxbridges and the Ivy Leagues are not named as putting their weight behind such courses - it’s the polys of the 1980s that are endorsing this future by competing for the funding. For the student willing to take a punt, though, these courses offer a practical, affordable way into industry, potential intellectual snobbery aside.
Recently, we welcomed an array of university advisers and industrial giants into Freemen’s for a careers convention for our own students and those from neighbouring schools. A representative from Ernst and Young - now rebranded as EY, perhaps a nod to youth, too - spoke convincingly about the pull of the modern apprenticeship, kickstarting interest for students in year 11 upwards with their innovative schools’ programme:
EY Schools Opportunities - EY - United Kingdom
I’d urge any year 11 student seriously considering a career in this sector to get involved and apply for their London Career in Business Day. The kind advisors at EY have even provided tips on how to ace your application! 
For some - students and parents, I expect - the prospect of earning in excess of £20K from eighteen rather than wracking up student debt will ultimately appeal, not least if they will end up ahead of their graduate peers in terms of experience further down the line. It is certainly a growth area for employers and it will be very interesting to see what the landscape will look like in five years’ time.
It’s clear that the future we might have seen for our children when they were born has potentially shunted. I’ve said before that we don’t know what jobs will be available when our current students are at working age as so many of those jobs haven’t yet been invented. All we can ask for is that our students equip themselves, and we equip them in school, with the means to adapt, and the means to apply themselves not only to problems but also to opportunities.
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