Matthew Hancock MP, minister for skills and enterprise teams with Dragon Peter Jones for new Innovation and Growth apprenticeship programme
The relationship between enterprise and education is something of a hot topic at the moment - which is kinda why we ran a big old analysis piece on it this month. It certainly appears our timing could not have been better especially as this week is National Apprenticeship Week.
And needless to say, nothing tickles our pickle more than programmes designed to inspire and propel the next generation of entrepreneurs upon which the future of our nation very much depends. The Ignite Level 5 Higher Apprenticeship in Innovation and Growth is just that.
Developed in partnership with Pearson, the learning company, and several other partner organisations, the Ignite Level 5 Higher Apprenticeship in Innovation and Growth from the Peter Jones Foundation will offer young people an opportunity to develop invaluable business and innovation skills, helping them prepare as best they can for the 21st Century workplace.
The foundation has enlisted the support of - among various other partners - Grant Thornton UK, that, with its Growth Accelerator Programme, is working to highlight the value of the apprenticeship across over 10,000 organisations in the UK.
Speaking exclusively to Elite Business, Alice Barnard, chief executive of the Peter Jones Foundation said: “Everything we do at the Peter Jones foundation is centred on giving young people aspiration, choice, and quality learning either through qualifications or through competitions. We’re also about driving the unemployment rates among young people down and this higher apprenticeships programme is part of that process.”
Unsurprisingly, the man behind the Foundation echoed Barnard's sentiments. “In today’s tough economic climate, businesses and organisations are increasingly looking for exceptional employees with strong communication and leadership skills, to help them grow in a competitive commercial environment, and this is exactly what the Ignite apprenticeship programme is here to do,” said Jones. “It will nurture ‘intrapreneurial’ and confident business leaders, who will energise and help companies to grow, by being entrepreneurial and innovative.”
Surprise is also in short supply with the revelation that Jessops - of which Jones came to the rescue last year - has partnered with the programme. The photography firm hopes the apprenticeship will better help it understand and meet the wide diverse needs of its customers. “We believe developing a workforce from within our business that understands our culture, values and commercial objectives is the most effective way to develop outstanding people that will ultimately give us a long term advantage in the highly competitive retail sector,” said Neil Old, its chief operating officer.
Ultimately, for Barnard, the broad message for SMEs is that apprenticeships are a good thing. "We need to bust some of the myths out there that put businesses off taking the steps to take on apprenticeships," she said. "The government needs to eulogise to the market that this is a really good thing. Employers need to know that anything that they pay out, they will receive triple back from the young person in terms of commitment, loyalty and ability.”