Becoming an Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Ambassador by Leona Weston

Leona Weston, ​PR and Communications Apprentice at OxLEP, talks about her experience of joining the Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Ambassador scheme...

The Apprenticeship Ambassador scheme is used to support the work of OxLEP Skills, with current and former Apprentices from Oxfordshire volunteering to share their experiences with young people across the county. As one of the ‘new recruits’ to this scheme, this is something I am really looking forward to.

I think it is really important young people hear the experiences of individuals who are of a similar age and have access to information on all aspects of further and higher education. I also think that by being an Apprenticeship Ambassador, this allows you to meet other Apprentices and hear their experiences, as well as giving you the opportunity to improve your confidence – for example; developing your public speaking skills.

Having attended Ambassador training last week, I can genuinely say this too was an enjoyable process and a chance to share our stories with other Ambassadors and clarify exactly what we each want to say. I was joined in the training session by six other new Ambassadors, whose roles range from accountancy to quantity surveying – so we all have a real mix of skills. 

The session started off by us all introducing ourselves and getting to know each other, how long we had all been in our roles and exactly what these entail. Clive from Oxford University Apprenticeships, who took the session, helped us to explain why we chose to be Ambassadors, using a case study worksheet and to give our honest feelings on our roles and the opportunities we have been given, before we all gave each other feedback on our presentation skills. This was really positive and I think we all felt comfortable speaking in front of each other once the session was finished. Mel and Aoife from OxLEP Skills then finished the training session by explaining the opportunities that are available to ambassadors and taking a group photo. These opportunities include going into schools and explaining why you decided to choose the Apprenticeship route, through assemblies, ‘human libraries’ (this is where individuals move around and hear the stories of different ambassadors) and career festivals.

I am really excited about becoming an Apprenticeship Ambassador, as this is an area I feel passionately about and one that I think lacks enough attention, when Apprenticeships offer great opportunities. I think it is useful for individuals to hear the first-hand experiences of people of a similar age and those who have faced with the same decisions when leaving school or college. This allows young people to make a more informed decision on what is best for them individually. 

I also think it is important employers understand how taking on Apprentices can benefit them too, and it is vital to get this message out. Apprenticeships create a skilled workforce for the future, something businesses will then be able to capitalise on – and by being a company that pays and trains Apprentices, this often results in increased loyalty and productivity. Investing in Apprenticeships can also help to improve a company’s finances – as many businesses and customers favour working with those that hire Apprentices.

Through the Ambassador scheme, I am looking forward to working on helping to get these messages across, meeting more Ambassadors and hearing about their experiences and why they chose the Apprenticeship route.

I think this opportunity will improve my confidence in public speaking, as well as my interpersonal and networking abilities. I feel that this will be a great asset to my own personal development and that there is a lot to gain from it and give to the scheme.

Pictured above are (L-R):

  • Charlie Plows, Mechanical Engineering Apprentice, Williams F1
  • Oscar Thomas, Accountancy Apprentice, Wellers
  • Luke Ball, Apprentice Quantity Surveyor, Beard Construction
  • Leona Weston, PR & Communications Apprentice, OxLEP
  • Lola Matthews, Business Administration Apprentice, University of Oxford
  • Jordan Morris, Apprentice Printing Assistant, University of Oxford
  • Abi Crawforth, Mechanical Engineering Apprentice, Williams F1