Appreciating apprentices

The value of apprentices has been highlighted during Apprenticeship Week this week (5–9 March)


When I was growing up, I wanted to be a teacher, a hairdresser, a vet, a writer and even an astronaut at some stage or another.

This meant that I spent some time between the ages of 12 and 18 completing a range of work experience placements – although a 9–5 at NASA didn’t feature.

Gaining work experience, albeit for just a day or a week at a time, gave me a better grasp on the realities of what those jobs entailed and if they were really for me (some of which were not).

The value of work experience is still endorsed in schools today as they encourage pupils to spend some time in the settings that they aspire to work in full-time one day.

The idea of on the job learning has been highlighted in recent years, with a wide range of organisations offering apprenticeship schemes to help people develop the practical skills they require to progress in their chosen career.  

This week when a charity got in touch regarding a possible story, I realised that this way of learning offered benefits to not only the apprentice and the company they are working for, but also potentially for those they serve. 

When apprentices at an aerospace company called Leonardo put their heads together to try and find a solution that could help wheelchair users at the Edinburgh Royal Blind School navigate their surroundings, they made sure they didn’t fail. 

Having successfully adapted sensory technology, the apprentices have developed a tool using radio frequency tabs that are placed on Smart tracks that the wheelchair follows and that can announce the name of the classroom that pupils have reached.

Image credit: Getty