Salford apprentices have their say at Conservative Party Conference

Categories: Schools

Despite ongoing political turmoil in Westminster, the Government arrived en masse in Manchester earlier this month for the Conservative Party Conference.

While degree apprenticeships are growing both here at Salford and across the country, issues around awareness amongst young people and sustainable funding, particularly for SMEs, prevail.

We teamed up with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Apprenticeships to host a number of events aimed at getting the Government listening on degree apprenticeships while they were in Manchester.

And who better to talk about apprenticeships than three apprentices themselves?

We invited two of our apprentices to take part in a panel discussion on the fringe at Conservative Party conference, chaired by Gillian Keegan, MP for Chichester and former apprentice:

  • Jack Hook, a former quantity surveying apprentice at Salford and now assistant quantity surveyor at Create Construction; and
  • Nicola Elliot, an automation engineering apprentice at Amazon who will be studying at Salford this academic year.

They were joined by Harry McGillivary, an apprentice at Battersea Power Station.

The apprentices were invited to speak for a few minutes each to outline why they chose an apprenticeship and they were then grilled by members of the audience, which included politicians, business leaders and policy makers.

The apprentices also got the opportunity to meet with Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Education, who praised degree apprenticeships for their industry-focus and spoke to each apprentices individually about their work and studies, recognising the hard work and dedication it takes to being a degree level apprentice.

Following the panel event, we hosted a private round table dinner where senior politicians, including Gillian Keegan, discussed the future of degree apprenticeship funding with leaders in industry from major employers such as Amazon and Siemens.

Members of the University’s senior team, including the Vice-Chancellor, Helen Marshall; Pro-Vice-Chancellor for International and Regional Partnerships, Jo Purves; Director of International and Regional Partnerships, Paul Ward; and Associate Director External Relations, Andrew Snowden, were in attendance at the dinner.

A number of issues were discussed, but in particular the challenge around funding for SMEs, which is an issue we're facing here at Salford, was highlighted to Gillian, who is chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Apprenticeships, and other stakeholders. Gillian resolved to take the concerns raised away for consideration and we will continue to work with Gillian and others to advocate for a sustainable funding system that enables employers of all sizes to recruit apprentices at all levels, so that there are more opportunities for students like Jack, Nicola and Harry.

"Attending the party conference was a fantastic experience. I got to speak to some really senior people about an important topic and got great feedback. I was proud to represent the University of Salford and talk about the positive impact of degree apprenticeships and it was fascinating to get the chance to see what goes on at a major political party conference.

“Meeting the Secretary of State for Education was a really interesting experience. He was a super busy man, but he took the time to stop and chat to us about our studies and our employment, which was great, and he really was supportive of degree apprenticeships and of us for having chosen that route into work and study."

Jack Hook, former Salford apprentice

To contact the press office please phone +44 (0)161 295 2238 or e-mail s.e.wood@salford.ac.uk.