National Apprenticeship Week
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Apprenticeships address the skills gap and support students to reach new heights in their careers

City of Bristol College recently celebrated National Apprenticeship Week with the main theme of this year’s national campaign focusing on Building the Future.

The past year has been unlike any other, with millions of people being forced to work from home or furloughed from their place of work. That is why this year’s campaign is focused on rebuilding and improving the career aspects for people in all walks of life.

In the past 18 months, the college has seen nearly 300 apprentices complete their course of study and the college now boasts more than 400 employer partners.

One such employer is Jon Pritchard Ltd, a loft conversion company in Bristol, which is now in its fifth year of recruiting apprentices.

HR Consultant and Apprenticeship Officer, Les Caunce, said: “We wish to pass on skills and knowledge to all ages who are willing to learn a construction trade role. Keen people bring a breath of fresh air with new ideas and this in turn gives a spark and boost to the whole company and, as a result, productivity increases.”

University of Bristol’s Employability and Opportunity Manager, Rebecca Scott, described apprenticeships as an ‘excellent tool to address skills gaps’ and said the Russell Group university is in its seventh year of having apprenticeships in its professional services and technical areas.

Rebecca added: “Other than simply being a great way to contribute positively to the region’s social mobility, apprenticeships are an excellent tool for organisation to be able to address the skills gaps and plan succession by creating career entry level points across a wide range of professional disciplines.

“For organisations with roles with more unique skill sets, apprenticeship can be a great way of developing new employees with the required skill sets as part of a longer-term workforce plan.”

Rebecca Scott

City of Bristol College spent National Apprenticeship Week celebrating its employers and apprentices, and shared the fruits of the apprentices’ labours through case studies and events to encourage others onto an apprenticeship programme.

One such case study is 22-year-old Jamaar Semper who joined the college in 2014 on a Level 1 Kitchen and Restaurant Skills course. After showing off his talents, the Bristolian-born chef was recommended to complete a Level 3 apprenticeship with the college, an experience he described as ‘a great experience’ which ‘prepared him to step into the hospitality industry’.

Since leaving the college in 2016, Jamaar has earned the title of Young South West Chef of the Year 2019 and made the finals of the Young National Chef of the Year in 2020.

He now works as a junior sous-chef in a Michelin-star kitchen near Bath and earned a spot on the 2020 series of MasterChef: The Professionals.

Speaking of the experience, Jamaar said: “To get some amazing feedback from the judges about my food was amazing and to meet some fantastic chefs, who I now call friends, was everything. My highlight of the competition was cooking for the food critics. It was an incredibly tense day but the feedback I received was all positive so that really made my experience incredible.”

Jamaar Semper

Another such success comes in the guise of 38-year-old Daniella Shields, an apprentice who flew up the ladder at Doveton Press Ltd.

Since starting her apprenticeship, Daniella said her job role has ‘massively expanded’ through her learning. When she started her course, she was an office manager with some human resources duties and is now a Human Resources Manager with some office manager duties.

She said: “I have been able to manage and implement redundancy processes, completely on my own with no HR team support. I managed the furlough scheme and employee engagement throughout the pandemic and have implemented some HR practices and policies at my work place which are working well.

“Before my academic journey began, I never would have thought I would have achieved that alone. Amazingly, I managed a distinction on my apprenticeship and looking back, it is clear that, although it was challenging, it was so worth the effort!”

City of Bristol College boasts a wide selection of apprenticeship opportunities in areas such as Business and Professional Services, Computing, Engineering, Motor Vehicle, Health and Social Care and Catering.

It will also be further developing its construction apprenticeship route offering in September this year with the grand opening of the Advanced Skills Construction Centre in South Bristol, which will support the development of creating qualified tradesmen and women and improving the employment gap in the south of Bristol, which is one of the most deprived areas in the country.

City of Bristol College’s Principal and Chief Executive, Andy Forbes, said: “City of Bristol College is central to the local community, its people and employers.  We are delighted to be in such a vibrant and forward-thinking city to make a difference to people’s lives.  National Apprenticeship Week is an important celebration in our calendar and we would like to thank those employers who work with us and encourage other employers to talk to us about how apprentices can support their business.”

To find out more about how City of Bristol College is celebrating National Apprenticeship Week and to read more about the college’s employer and student successes, visit

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