Friday, March 8, was the last day of Apprenticeship Week and I spent the day meeting local apprentices around Chichester. The day started with the RSPCA, at Mount Noddy animal rehoming centre where I met a group of apprentices at different stages of their apprenticeship and studying for many levels of qualification.
The RSPCA’s programmes are popular and they already have a waiting list of over 50 applicants. This is hardly surprising as people not only get to work with animals but also bring their pets into the office. The RSPCA are running some exciting programmes including a ‘New Skills’ or ‘New Career’ option, also available to existing employees, and their ‘Management scheme’ where apprentices study up to degree-level and masters-level to gain more experience and advance their career. A benefit to both employer and apprentice as everything being learnt can be put into practice the very next day.
Of course, I didn’t just see the apprentices I also got to meet some of the animals. They are well loved and cared for but many have previously suffered appalling treatment or abandonment. The team on the ground were clearly devoted to the animals.
That afternoon, I visited Chichester Stoneworks, a masonry firm based in our city. This is a traditional and highly skilled trade, and the team there are restoring and producing some beautiful architecture. They have worked on some impressive projects from the restoration of the Chichester Cathedral cloisters to returning Temple Bar back to the City of London after it was dismantled and moved out of the City back in 1870. This industry uses advanced machinery to cut down and carve away stone into basic shapes, but the detail and finishing work has stood the test of time and still requires a hammer and chisel. I tried my hand at some decorative work on a panel of stone flowers that were being worked on by Emma who recently completed her apprenticeship, and is now a mason in her own right.
Apprenticeships are available in a huge variety of working environments and sectors. I’ve met people training in everything from robotic engineering, accountancy, stone masonry, business, marketing and computing. The opportunities are endless!
n On Friday, March 15, if you’re near The Three Moles in Selham I will be holding my next ‘Pub Tour’ from 5pm, so I hope to see you there.