The Works and Pensions Select Committee is carrying out an inquiry into improving employment opportunities for young people. As part of this inquiry, the Committee approached Carillion and asked for our help.  As a result we arranged for two former Carillion apprentices to appear before the Committee and share their first-hand experience of apprenticeships as a route into work and an alternative to full-time education.

Jaden Waugh, civil engineer and Christopher Oxford who works in rail signalling, who both completed apprenticeships with Carillilon, gave evidence to the committee.  They told the Committee members that apprenticeships are not promoted enough in schools and are perceived as being the last resort and only an option for those who are unable to achieve high grades and ‘not capable’ of studying A-Levels.

Due to the stereotype, both Jaden and Chris began to further their education through A-levels. However, they soon discovered A-levels were not the right choice for their career path and thanks to a Google search – applied to be Carillion apprentices.

Chris told the committee: “I always thought apprenticeships were the worst route to take. It was always joked about at school – if you didn’t get the grades to do your A-levels, you went to do an apprenticeship because you had no other choice. But that’s not the case at all, I got the grades – I studied for my A-levels for a year but it just wasn’t for me – people learn in different ways and that’s ok.”

Jaden and Chris told the MPs that during secondary school they were told that university was the only route to take if you want to succeed.

Jaden said: “I knew I wanted to be a Civil Engineer and I knew an apprenticeship was the best route for me into this career. I volunteer at local schools and colleges and I always tell the students – if you know what you want to do, definitely do an apprenticeship! Don’t waste your time like I did, don’t listen to what you are told. Apprenticeships are a good route to take – it’s not something to just fall back on. I love what I do and I wouldn’t have got where I am today without completing my apprenticeship.”

The Chair of the Select Committee, Rt Hon Frank Field MP, praised Jaden and Chris in response and pointed out that statistics show the top 40% of apprentices earn much more than the bottom 40% graduates.

Jaden is now furthering her knowledge and taking the next step in her career studying a HNC at Sheffield City College and Chris is moving up the career ladder as an assistant project engineer.

The full hearing can be viewed on Parliamentlive.tv

Further information about careers with Carillion, including apprenticeships, is available on the career pages

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