Apprentice to promote the benefits of vocational education in schools

The benefits of becoming an apprentice are to be promoted to hundreds of local secondary school students following the recruitment of a young Bury man as an Apprenticeship Ambassador.

In his new role Ben Howarth, 22, will visit schools across Greater Manchester explaining what apprenticeships are and the career paths they can offer. He will also draw upon his own positive experiences as an apprentice with Bury-based data and telecommunications specialist Pennine Telecom.

The Bury College student is taking part in Apprenticeship Ambassador Programme which was initiated by Manchester City Council in partnership with the Greater Manchester Learning Provider Network.

Ben made his first presentation to Year 10 pupils at Bolton’s Harper Green School last month and so impressed the programme’s organisers that they promoted him to a Lead Ambassador. This means he will handle future presentations without the need for supervision and will be responsible for supporting other ambassadors. His next presentation will be to teachers at Moorside High School, Swinton on Tuesday January 20th.

Ben joined Pennine in 2012 and has since secured an NVQ Level 2 qualification in Customer Service. He is now pursuing a Level 3 in Business Administration and plans to progress to Level 4 in the New Year. He hopes his first-hand experience will help convince students to include apprenticeships among their options when leaving school.

He said: “I would have no hesitation in recommending apprenticeships to school-leavers because I know their real value from my own experience. It’s been a massive help to me. There is so much more choice now, they’re not just about training to become a plumber or electrician. You can also train right up to Level 6, equivalent to a foundation degree course, whilst gaining real work experience which employers really value.”

He adds that his ongoing apprenticeship at Pennine is equipping him not just with specific skills but a wider knowledge of how the business operates. “I started in what’s called the Service Control department, learning about delivery of maintenance and support services. I then moved across to the Sales Support team where I’m working alongside the Sales team and responsible for provisioning mobiles, billing, processing orders and liaising with customers. I’ve learned so much from being hands-on, receiving training on specific products such as mobile devices and even visiting Vodafone’s HQ in Newbury.”

He also recognises that in Managing Director Andrew Roberts and Product Director Geoff King he has some ideal role models. “Andrew joined the company as an apprentice from Bolton College and is now the boss. That shows me just what can be achieved.”