The meeting was opened by the Leader of Gedling Borough Council, Councillor John Clarke who joined in the meeting for the majority of the first day, to demonstrate his commitment to developing Apprenticeship opportunities for young people within Gedling and help cement their and the Borough’s economic prosperity.
Both day’s were chaired by Stephen Bray, the Corporate Director at the Council with responsibility for Economic Development. The first day revolved around scene setting and agreed working relationships and establishing a Memorandum of Understanding to govern the work of the 3-year project. Work went onto late in the evening where our European Colleagues were shown some of the cultural sights of the City of Nottingham, the highlight of which was a large impromptu student pillow fight in the Old Market Square. At the end of which the Market Square resembled a ‘winter wonderland’ scene with pillow feathers everywhere, much to the bemusement of our European partners.
The second day was spend explaining and understanding the Apprenticeship context in each partner country and it was fascinating to discover just how different Apprenticeships are country by country, but also reassuring to discover that the barriers faced by SME’s in each country are broadly similar in nature.
One fact however, underlines the scope of the challenge that exists in the UK: In Germany 50% of young people progress into an Apprenticeship after leaving education; in Canada this figure is 30%. In the UK the latest data shows the same figure to be 5%.
The next project meeting is scheduled to take place in Berlin in early March 2016 where our German and Canadian partners will be showcasing some of their best practice involving SME’s engaging with young people through Apprenticeships.