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10 June 2015

Today is Vocational Qualifications Day, with the independent education charity the Edge Foundation having found that practical qualifications trump degrees as the pathway into the most highly rated skills in the community. London Youth has two employability programmes, Talent Match London and Build-it, as well as running apprenticeships at Woodrow to provide opportunities for young people to gain essential life and work skills.

We asked Lee, who completed his Woodrow apprenticeship in 2014 and now works at our other outdoor education centre Hindleap, for his perspective on vocational qualifications.

Why did you choose to apply for an apprenticeship?

I started off at PGL (a different outdoor activity company) and felt that although I had the experience to be an outdoor education instructor, the fact that I had no formal qualification was a barrier to employment.

The fact that the apprenticeship had opportunities for other qualifications within it such as expeditions and archery was great, as well as the knowledge that you would have job security for 18 months whilst studying towards a qualification.

What do you feel you got out of the apprenticeship?

One of the best things I got out of the apprenticeship was proof that I could be a group leader and I could back up my experience and training with evidence to employers. I also had the opportunity to go back to subjects such as English and Maths that you may not have thought would be part of an apprenticeship.

What is your opinion on the value of apprenticeships for young people?

I think apprenticeships are a brilliant way for people who have struggled in the education system to get qualifications and to carry on learning.

After completing a full 2 years at Woodrow I progressed to being an instructor at Hindleap, which has been great in terms of career development after the apprenticeship.

 After apprentices complete their first year contract at Woodrow there is an opportunity to apply for a Lead instructor position for a further year, potentially even 2 additional years. Every year at Woodrow they have one or 2 lead positions available. As well as this they have a strong relationship with London Youth’s other outdoor centre, Hindleap Warren, who have one instructor position available each year for a Woodrow instructor to apply for. This provides further development for the right candidate at a different centre.

Lee, 23, obtained his Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Outdoor Programmes at Woodrow before moving in December 2014 to Hindleap.