The value of the Apprenticeship Ambassador role by Leona Weston

When I took on my role as PR and Communications Apprentice with Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership a few months back, I decided to additionally take on the role of an Apprenticeship Ambassador within the county. This scheme provided by the Oxfordshire Apprenticeships team within OxLEP Skills, was something I knew I wanted to be a part of, as it allows young people from the area to hear the real-life experiences of Apprentices and to understand why this is such an important route into higher education to consider.

As an Apprenticeship Ambassador, you are provided with a series of opportunities that you can choose to get involved with, whether that is talking to a whole year group in a school assembly, or partaking in a much more personal drop-in session. You are also a part of a community of like-minded individuals, who similarly understand the importance of providing information that is sometimes missing to young people in education.

Just last week I stepped into a school as an Apprenticeship Ambassador for the first time, speaking to a room of 40 young adults at the Bicester School, as part of a ‘Futures’ Day’. This consisted of giving a brief five-minute talk about my personal experiences within further education, what I think about my Apprenticeship and any hints and tips I have about finding the right path for you. This was then followed by an informal period of chatting to the pupils and answering any questions about Apprenticeships that were asked.

Whilst I was at first nervous about speaking to such a large party, I soon settled into this and found that as this is an area I feel really passionately about, I could talk about my experiences openly and with confidence.

When it then came to speaking to pupils after, offering advice and in turn receiving feedback on how well I communicated my experiences, I was pleasantly surprised by how many students had really engaged with my story and said that they would now take a more serious look at Apprenticeships on offer.

I wasn’t the only Apprenticeship Ambassador at this event and was joined by Jordan, Olivia and Nicola - all of whom it was really nice to share experiences with, as well as Mel from OxLEP Skills who ensured we all felt comfortable in what we were doing.

Leaving the event, I felt as if I had really achieved something, as public speaking is something that would usually sit outside of my comfort zone. I also couldn’t help but feel that just a few of us sharing our stories on why we decided to become Apprentices and how we found the right Apprenticeships for us was something a lot of students really benefitted from. Even if many of those students go onto university or other forms of training, at least by hearing from Apprentices they can make an informed decision on what is right for them and their future.

I am now really looking forward to the next event I am involved in as an Apprenticeship Ambassador, as I not only think further students will benefit from this, but this is of huge value to myself and the skills I have to offer going forward in my career.