Bring apprenticeships back into fashion

Burnley Express publisher Johnston Press is among the thousands of companies working with colleges and training providers to offer apprenticeships. To mark National Apprenticeship Week Gary Flockhart takes a look at how apprenticeships work

Tuesday, 6th March 2018, 11:16 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th March 2018, 11:35 am
Lancashire Post apprentice Natasha Meek meets Prime Minister Theresa May

In the not-so-distant past, apprenticeships were limited to the construction and engineering trades - but in recent years opportunities have expanded to include a variety of job sectors, covering literally hundreds of different roles.

It also used be that apprenticeships were looked down on as being for non-academics only, though mercifully, this is a thoroughly outdated view.

These days, most apprentices, if not all, are assessed by their learning provider and their company, as well as completing regular coursework and revising to pass exams.

Natasha Meek

The vast majority of modern apprenticeships are paid, and have significant benefits for both the individual and the employer.

An individual gains nationally recognised qualifications while working for an employer; the employer, in turn, benefits from a willing-to-work employee who can learn on the job.

The rise in university tuition fees, coupled with the Government’s focus on creating rigorous and quality schemes, means that apprenticeships are fast becoming an attractive route into employment.

From animal care to administration, fencing to floristry, horticulture to housing and games testing to journalism, there’s an apprenticeship to suit your needs.

Times have changed since apprenticeships were exclusively manual jobs

Time was when an apprenticeship meant training to become a skilled tradesman of some description - plumber, electrician or builder for instance.

In recent years, though, apprenticeships have gone mainstream, with just about every industry imaginable offering young people on-the-job training.

What this means is that there are plenty of unique opportunities out there for anyone who wants to gain workplace experience.

Some modern apprenticeships you may not have heard of include crime scene photographer, playworker, chocolatier, equine dentistry, radio plugger and space engineer.

Natasha Meek

Johnston Press’s journalism apprentice Natasha Meek made a considered decision to follow the apprenticeship route rather than go to university after finishing college.

Since joining the newsroom in November 2017 she has provided invaluable to support the Express and its sisters newspapers across Lancashire.

As well as doing some of the vital grass roots work which helps the papers hit the streets every day Natasha, 19, studies journalism one day a week at college.

There she learns essentials of the job like law, shorthand, public administration, video editing, court reporting and writing skills.

Times have changed since apprenticeships were exclusively manual jobs

Natasha spends another day shadowing colleagues on jobs and writing up her own news and features ideas for our newspapers and websites and even doing FaceBook Live broadcasts.It is a scheme which is working well for all parties and last month she was able to meet Prime Minister Theresa May and brief her on how the apprenticeship was going.

Johnston Press North Advanced Content team manager Kath Finlay,whose team works with the company’s of apprentices, said: “We are delighted to be offering our apprentices a chance to get into what remains a fantastic industry.

“Times have changed in the 40 years since I started out as a trainee reporter, but working in the media as a journalist remains as exciting, and perhaps even more challenging, than ever.

“Not only do we provide news, views and local information in print, we now do it through social media and the internet, and often as it happens through breaking stories online and through new mediums such as Facebook Live.

“Our apprentices will get a fantastic grounding in the industry and I wish them well for the future.”

l To find out more about apprenticeships visit


The 11th National Apprenticeship Week (NAW 2018) will run from today until March 9.

During the week employers and apprentices from across England will come together to celebrate the success of apprenticeships while encouraging even more people to choose apprenticeships as a pathway to a great career.

If you would like to find out more about life for our apprentices feel free to tweet @jpapprentices and ask Natasha any questions you would like to.