Like a well-oiled machine, the Young Ambassadors of the Young Westminster Foundation set up the room for their first community event. They had gotten six employers to come in a talk to young people about an alternative to university: apprenticeships.

The employers came from McDonald’s and Vodafone among others. Based on my conversations with a few of the Young Ambassadors it seems like the night was relatively successful.

Not as many young people showed up as they had hoped for, but this gave them the chance to more onto plan B.

Plan B was their backup plan to learn from the employers about apprenticeships themselves so they would be able to bring this information back to other young people in their communities.

The event also gave them insight into what they need to do to improve events in the future.


How important do you think apprenticeships are to young people who face unemployment in the UK?

Amando Da Costa: “I didn’t ever do an apprenticeship, but I feel like it’s kind of a good way to see how it is, like if you’re going to go into that field… I think it’s very important, it’s just like a taster so you know what you want to do. You don’t want to be going in and regretting. Like I did.”

Do you think you guys are going to use the information you found out for future events? 

Scarlett Stokes: “As well as the actual things that we learned during this: so I learned about the apprenticeships, like I don’t personally think that I’m going to do an apprenticeship but I know a lot of people who maybe think that this sort of linear course of education at the moment which we have, secondary school, A-levels, university, it doesn’t really suit them.

“My younger sister for example, I’m probably going to encourage her to do an apprenticeship now because she doesn’t like the idea of university or she doesn’t like the idea of A-levels that much.

“So I’m quite glad I have this knowledge now so I can be like ‘Hey did you know that this exists? It’s an option and it’s actually really good and you get paid and it’s an alternative and you’ll be set up for life.’ So I’m really glad that I have this knowledge now.”

Yeah, that sounds like my little sister. During high school she did vocational school and she’s a certified cosmetologist now.


Yeah, she’s going to college now, but she liked that more than class.

“Yeah, my sister she hates school. I feel really bad because I quite enjoy it but, she just doesn’t like it and I really want to find her an alternative.

“I think she likes being active, she really likes drama and she really likes theatre so I was thinking if there was a way of me finding out if there are apprenticeships she can do in regards to that.

“There almost certainly are because there are apprenticeships for everything and we just don’t know it.

“I’m going to look out for some of those and encourage her to take that route instead.”

How important do you think apprenticeships are to young people who face unemployment in the UK?

“Yeah, it’s seen as like a BTEC version of university and that’s really problematic because that means a lot of kids who maybe wouldn’t want to go down the traditional route of university are being forced into it because that’s what they’ve been forced to do.

“And apprenticeships are an alternative that many people aren’t being told about and I think it’s really important to tell young people that these opportunities exist so they’re not stuck in a dead-end job that they hate all the time, like for the rest of their lives like they have an alternative. So I think it’s massively important.

“In terms of reducing unemployment as well like, if you don’t want to go to uni after A-levels you might just want to drop out of school and you won’t have anything, or you might just start working and kind of never really exceed that point and I think it’s really important that people are aware that apprenticeships exist because they are a form of employment that people can take. They are a path that can be taken that help them reap a lot of rewards.”

What is it like being a Young Ambassador?

Christian Wright: It’s been great. Even since I’ve been put forward as a Young Ambassador I’ve been able to increase on my communication skills, gain new insight into organising events such as the one held tonight. I’ve also been able to network, which is great, and meet people with young, fresh ideas such as me.

So you do think that if a young person can’t get a job or they don’t want to go university an apprenticeship would be a good step?

“Oh course, it would be a good step. If they’re unemployed and they’re not getting jobs they obviously need training and that’s what apprenticeships provide. Alternatively, they can look for work experience, but if they want to get paid, apprenticeships are the best thing to do.

“You can start an apprenticeship once you get out of secondary school from 3 all the way to level 6. Level 6 is the equivalent to a degree. So as a young person I would say if you’re finding it hard to get a job and experience an apprenticeship would best place to start.

“That’s my advice.”

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