To mark the start of National Apprenticeship Week 2022 Bolton College’s Apprenticeships team discussed how they have responded to the challenges of the Covid pandemic.

The College, which is part of the University of Bolton Group, currently offers 42 Apprenticeship programmes, supporting over 600 apprentices and their employers during the past two years.

During this time, 347 apprentices were placed on furlough yet they were still able to continue their training at home, accessing the College’s theoretical and practical resources.

Unfortunately for some apprentices, redundancy was unavoidable; the College helped these apprentices find suitable positions and in some cases, even acted as a ‘proxy’ employer, ensuring training was completed. Many continued to go on and pass their End Point Assessment with distinctions.  

As rules relating to the pandemic and working conditions frequently changed, the College’s employment engagement advisors (EEAs) supported potential Apprenticeship employers by offering information, advice and guidance.

They also encouraged businesses to apply for government financial incentives that encouraged apprentice recruitment, resulting in a surge of newly-employed apprentices in the North West.

Paul Thompson of Thompson Style Ltd said: “As a salon owner I have been very impressed with the constant contact and help from Bolton College.

“Throughout restrictions and uncertainty, the support was fantastic, so much so it encouraged me to take on my apprentice Oliver.”

Paul Lomax, Service Manager at Ciceley Commercials Ltd said: “The Apprenticeships team at the College have provided a great level of customer service, being both helpful and professional.

“We’ve been that impressed with the team, we’ve also offered work experience placements to Bolton College learners.”

Kate Wallace, Bolton College’s Director of Apprenticeships, added: “Rather fittingly the theme of this year’s National Apprenticeship Week is ‘Build the Future’, with a particular focus on the benefits Apprenticeships have on individuals, businesses and the community.

“Our apprentices and their employers have faced some tough times and we are so proud to have played a part in supporting them as they faced, and overcame, these challenges head on.”