Gillingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry | Z Apprenticeships – The Future
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Z Apprenticeships – The Future

01 Oct Z Apprenticeships – The Future

There has for a long time been an air of mystery over the word apprentice.

In the distant past an apprentice might be a lad taken out of school with little or no education to learn a trade. A derogatory name to cover up ineptitude or laziness.  He would study the family profession, learning enough by rote to keep it at the same level in the future.  The BBC sitcom ‘Open All Hours’ neatly depicts the bumbling apprentice learning, watching and being dispatched to do the less savoury tasks.    Although a comedy program the later revival ‘Still Open All Hours’ cleverly portrays our expectation of the boy, individual in his own character but now coming into his own.  The modern shop is still anchored in the 1970s but Granville now owning it learnt not just the business but some of the characteristics of his beloved uncle; Arkwright.

It was not so long ago that I worked with the YTS (Youth Training Scheme) lad who instead of learning the ropes was a method of the Government funding a runner or gopher to make the tea and run the post to the box.   Most YTS youngsters found their jobs no longer available once the subsidy ran out and a new all too eager replacement doing their job.  A lucky few were taken on but many just notched up another CV experience.

Lord Sugar looked at things slightly differently when he launched his search for an ‘Apprentice’.    A gruelling 12 week process of voyeurism into the very heart of each character, analysing their skills in all aspects of business by dangling the offer of a single job at the end.  This route is not for the light hearted and certainly not for those with little formal education.  For the 18 candidates shortlisted for this unrestricted big brother opportunity there are thousands of unsuccessful applicants honing their quirkiness, and uniqueness to apply.

With University fees being so high and places being so sought after, what options do the youngsters of today have to learn a trade or skill.  The compulsory age of leaving school has risen but that does not mean that more children are wanting to pursue further education in the generic sense of A’ levels, college and university.  No matter how advanced technology becomes, or standardised our methods of testing, children will always excel in different ways, some academically and some logically and some practically.

Gillingham Chamber of Commerce recognises the diversity of the youth and the need for businesses to work with the schools to explore different options for further education and career paths.    Our Skillsfest evening on the 17 October at the Olive Bowl in Gillingham will bring together both youth and business in a forum of explanation.  We hope to explore the options available, look at local providers, discuss help for businesses and prospects for both company and candidate.   We want to expel some of the misunderstandings of myths surrounding the current apprenticeship programme.

We will be introducing short talks from a training provider, two former apprentices now taken on with their firm, a representative from local government, Young Enterprise looking at the skills needed and an apprentice employer.

Our tables around the room, and we have a few that are still available, are for business who are considering taking on apprentices in the future and wish to showcase themselves.    The local schools of Gillingham and Shaftesbury are sending the youngsters who might be considering this kind of opportunity  and might be looking at the types of businesses on offer.

For more information please contact Gillingham Chamber (

Gillingham Skillfest   Tuesday 17 October    Gillingham Chamber (

Victoriana Fayre   Saturday 2 December   Gillingham Chamber (

Gillingham Business Lunch   Tuesday 5 December     Lucy Milton-Downes, Partner (sent on behalf of Farnfields Solicitors and Andrews and Palmer)_


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