Apprentices in Greater Manchester to be celebrated in series of events

Apprentices in Greater Manchester are set to be celebrated through a series of events as employers have told how they have helped their organisations to grow during the coronavirus pandemic.

National Apprenticeship Week, taking place this week (from 8 to 12 February), is online this year due to social distancing requirements - with employers such as AstraZeneca, Juice Academy and the RAF hosting talks on opportunities that are available for apprentices.

The theme this year is ‘Build the Future’, with a focus on how apprenticeships are helping contribute to the future of our city-region. Employers and apprentices will take part in a virtual panel discussion, where they will discuss how apprenticeship placements have played a vital part in helping organisations adapt to Covid-19 and how their work benefits Greater Manchester.

There are currently 40,000 people participating in an apprenticeship in the city-region, who range in age from 16 upwards. It's hoped there will be at least 20,000 new apprenticeship opportunities created over the next year.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “I am proud to be celebrating another year of National Apprenticeships Week and encourage parents, carers, teachers and young people to sign up to the upcoming events.

“I believe the pandemic should not prevent anybody from working in the industry of their choice and that everybody growing up, living or working in Greater Manchester should have the same opportunities. Apprentices also play a crucial role in bridging the skills gap in our city-region.

“I encourage those interested in finding out more about apprenticeships to visit the Greater Manchester Apprenticeship & Careers Service (GMACS) which launched last year. The website contains guidance to help people plan, search and apply for future job opportunities. Advice on keeping well and staying connected digitally during the pandemic can also be found here in order to help people progress.”

Councillor Sean Fielding, Oldham Council leader and GMCA lead for Education and Skills said: “Apprentices have supported businesses with adapting to home working and they will also play an important part in building the future of the city-region as we recover from the coronavirus crisis.

“Employers and apprentices have worked together to ensure those on placements have continued to gain their qualifications and further their careers during these unprecedented times. I urge further organisations in our city-region to offer apprenticeships and consider how they can help their businesses to thrive.”

Apprentices have told how their placements have helped open up further career opportunities, while employers have said offering apprenticeships invests in the future and growth of their organisations.

Lou Cordwell, Chair of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership (GM LEP), said: “Apprenticeships offer a huge number of benefits to employers and remain a fantastic option for young people or those looking to retrain. They provide a cost-effective way of developing relevant skills, and apprentices tend to make motivated, loyal employees.

“We expect thousands of people will need to reskill or upskill due to the impacts of the pandemic. Apprenticeships will therefore play a vital role in our post-Covid economic recovery, and will help ensure the skills people develop reflect the needs of businesses.”

Jenny Byrne, 20, graduated with a distinction in her digital marketing apprenticeship at The Juice Academy with Stockport-based employer Platform81.

She said: “My apprenticeship with The Juice Academy allowed me to successfully learn the knowledge and insights I needed at the start of my career in a digital industry, taking guidance from experts with years of experience.

“It allowed me to see the possibilities within my role and the industry itself, and what I could aspire to do moving forward into my career. Not only did my apprenticeship allow me to get my foot in the door and succeed in a busy, upcoming industry, it helped me make connections with others at the same level as me who were going through the same experience and learning, many of who I’m still friends with today.”

Amanda Childs, Digital Account Director and Jenny’s line manager, said: “Recruiting Jenny as an apprentice and investing in her continued growth has been a great journey for Platform81 to be on with her. She shows maturity, confidence, and work ethic well beyond her years, and is now seen as an integral part of the team whom we can all rely on for support.”

Some of the activities and events taking place in the week include:

  • Build the Future of GM Panel on 10 February – A virtual panel will discuss how employers and apprentices are contributing to the future of Greater Manchester
  • Meet Your Future 8 to 12 February – A range of talks from employers such as AstraZeneca, RAF, William Hare and Vizion Network taking place throughout week
  • Apprenticeships and the Workplace with Brother UK on 12 February – Greater Manchester Learning Provider Network will be speaking with an apprentice and employer from Brother UK in Audenshaw 

To register for National Apprenticeship Week events, visit


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