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Superb guest blog from a REAL Apprentice

Posted on 7 June 2013 | 3:06pm

I am delighted to post a blog by a young man from Burnley, Matt Seel, who is doing an apprenticeship with the town’s council. He and his fellow apprentices are also taking part in the national competition, the Brathay Apprenticeship Challenge. One of the many elements is to get celebrity endorsement, and to my eternal shame (given how much I loathe the celebrity culture of modern Britain) apparently I qualify! Shame or no shame, I hereby endorse the Burnley Council apprentices, and give my blog over to Matt.

The Real Apprentice…

I am an apprentice. I look good and I hold my phone in front of my mouth, as opposed to against my ear. I talk loudly about why on earth Stuart has ordered 10 boxes of Earl Grey tea, decimating our profit margin. I worry about Lord Sugar and our failure to win a trip in a helicopter to a luxury spa.

I am an apprentice. I think I look good and I barely speak on my phone, preferring to text. I talk loudly about next weekend’s plans, usually in between making 10 cups of tea or coffee. I worry about numbers of sugars in cups and take a trip for some milk to the local Spar.

I am an apprentice. No seriously. I am an actual apprentice, the real deal. I am not the fame-seeker or the misunderstood. I’m Matt Seel, a twenty-year old working in the business team at Burnley Council.

There was a time, early in my academic life, when I was led to believe apprenticeships were for the textbook dodgers: a last resort for those for whom a ‘GCSE’ was both an exam and also their set of predicted grades. Fail. They are the complete opposite.

I had an offer to study Philosophy, Religion and Ethics at the University of Central London but I chose an apprenticeship. I had grown tired of sitting in a classroom. I wanted to do something. I wanted the actions I took to have a consequence. I wanted an entry into the world of work.

At Burnley Council I have the opportunity to push myself; including writing this blog which with Alastair’s endorsement, I hope will lead to our apprentice team winning the national Brathay Apprenticeship Challenge. I have presented in front of over 100 businesses at a Burnley Bondholder event. I am working on projects that are making my hometown of Burnley a great place to be and supporting national projects like the Foodbank too – we have raised almost £4000.

I am one of the lucky ones though. The National Apprenticeship Service recently said there had been a 32% increase in demand for subsidised on-the-job training placements in the last year with 11 applications per vacancy. If you are an employer, create as many opportunities as you can. If you know an apprentice or a family member or friend is applying to be one, encourage them. Do not worry that it’s not university, times are changing and apprenticeships are becoming much broader and more and more apprentices are being kept on by their employers into full-time employment.

In the words of Lord Sugar, I have just been officially ‘hired’ – no six figure salary or wodge of money to start up my empire, but it is proof of what hard work, enthusiasm and the right attitude can bring about and further evidence that apprenticeships, real apprenticeships, can be the best option for a young man like me.

  • Daniel H

    Well done Matt! Good luck with the rest of your apprenticeship

  • Anonymous

    We are all individuals, and a life of academia does not suit us all. All learning is good, and we must provide a broad selection of environments and opportunities for people of all ages to live and learn in.

    Ignite the spark of curiosity and watch the student flourish.

    Apprenticeships, colleges and universities are all equally important and necessary to engage with individuals to provide the right environment and ignite the spark.

    It’s important to know yourself and to know what environment will suit you best. It’s a very brave and positive step for any young person to recognise that an apprenticeship will provide them with a better start in life than a university education, and I take my hat off to him.

    If I were employing an apprentice I would hire Mark Steel over any wannabe fame-seeking pretend tv entrepreneur.

    A real life experience produces real jobs for real people.
    The Apprenticeship

  • Lesley Burrows

    Great Blog Matt – well done. Burnley Council is a shining example of how to make an apprenticeship placement work for the business and for the employee and Matt is clearly someone who knows how to maximise his opportunities!!!!
    Thanks also for your recent engagement with The Job Junctions at Marsden Heights and sir John Thursby, inspiring the next bunch of REAL Apprentices!!

  • This is a brilliant post and so inspiring! I wish my company was a bit bigger so I could take on an apprentice, but I do tell other companies about the scheme when I’m out and about networking. Well done that man!

  • Anonymous

    Watched an interesting programme about Huddersfield the other day, in a series of four by Nicholas Crane. Very, very interesting. Interviewed young apprentices at a sharp end technology textile factory. Interesting town too.

    And the classic apprenticeship path, before Thatcher came along, is when you joined a company, with apprentice grants from central government, and if you had enough sciences, English and maths O levels, was from sixteen day release three year leading to BTEC OND, then two year BTEC HNC day release, and at 21 you could knock spots off any 21 year old coming out of Uni with an engineering degree, due to so much practical work experience. Ah, those were the days.

  • Michele

    Love your dig about ‘phone in front of mouth’ Matt, it must be a condition of their acceptance to the programme and certainly denotes a willingness to look just plain daft.

    You can be sure you’ll receive truly structured training and organisational skills which will be useful everywhere.

  • Michele

    Mark? You’re thinking of the comedian! 🙂