Category Archives: News and Views

Two weeks on The Junior Apprentice

Zainab Vayani who participated in Junior Apprentice – Kickstart in August 2015 writes about her experience:

On Monday, it was the opening day at London Borough of Hounslow Civic Centre.  This was quite new for me as I don’t usually sit in meeting rooms. The ‘double your money’ challenge was new and exciting, however my team did not win.

We visited GSK on Tuesday and had a lovely tour giving us an insight into their luxurious working place. Also, we went to the care home meeting elderly people with dementia.  This let us understand the daily lives of the elderly.

On Wednesday, we went to Sky Academy for the day’s challenge.  We were allowed to go to another building where we saw how live TV is monitored. Sky also provided us with lovely free lunch!

On Thursday, we were back at GSK and were given a ‘reservoir to tap’ challenge by Thames Water which was exciting! We also came up with ideas on what to sell on market stalls on Saturday.

On Friday, we were at Heathrow Academy where we could see behind the scenes at the airport.  We saw a vast number of screens in the airport control centre!  Our challenge was to consider how to improve the airport passenger experience.

We were back at Heathrow on Monday where we presented our ideas to the ‘Dragons’. I was the only person in my group that was here on Friday, so 3 new people joined me and quickly became part of the team.

On Tuesday, we were back at Sky Academy working in groups which let us understand how to work in an environment somewhat similar to the office environment.  The challenge was focused on developing an app for The Rough Guide to Hounslow.

On Wednesday, we were travelling to sport areas in the morning (in preparation for Friday/ Saturday’s cultural festival challenge) which let us stay outside for a while. In the second half of the day, we went to M & G investments where we gave a presentation to ‘Dragons’ on our Rough Guide to Hounslow apps and they gave us feedback.

On Thursday, we were solving clues and travelling to iconic places on ‘the London trail’ which was exciting! Along with that, we also had to sell doughnuts!

On Friday, we made our posters at Octink in preparation for Saturday’s cultural festival which was fun.  In the afternoon we tried to buy 1.5kg of Indian sweets for the cheapest price. We got it for around £11 and our group won!

Overall, the experience was lovely and I do feel sad that it has come to an end. I hope that we all meet up again since the experience let me connect with new people and I do recommend it!

Editors notes: Zainab couldn’t attend on Saturdays due to other commitments, but other students on the programme participated in a Market Stall challenge on the first Saturday and a Cultural Festival on the second Saturday, where they came together with programme participants from across London.  The Junior Apprentice – Kickstart programme is delivered in London Borough of Hounslow as a partnership between Spark! and The Hebe Foundation.

Business Links volunteer opportunities – Summer 2013

Spark’s Business Links team has a number of activities in our upcoming events programme that require business volunteers to assist in the delivery of a variety of workshops and activities. As usual, whether your support is on an ad-hoc or regular basis, we would like to hear from you!

CAREERS DAY / SPEED NETWORKING –  11 July 2013 at Grey Court School (Richmond)

Share your knowledge and expertise with young people to help prepare them for the world of work. We are looking for volunteers to deliver short workshops about your organisation to inspire young people or just come along for speed networking in the afternoon. Sign up today and we will match your skills to open up opportunities that enlighten the workforce of the future…

MOCK INTERVIEWS –  19 June 2013 at The Green School for Girls  |  16 July 2013 at St Mark’s School |  26 June 2013 at Heathland School

Give students the opportunity to find out what the expectations of employers are in an interview scenario. Volunteers will spend time interviewing young people with a set of questions and provide feedback to enable students to improve their interview skills. You can choose a morning, afternoon or a full day!

SPEED NETWORKING –  28 June at Cranford School | Year 12 ( am only) | 15 July at St Mark’s School | Year 10

Speed networking is a new, high energy way of introducing young people to a range of careers in a short amount of time –  it is fun, fast and effective and only requires a couple of hours of your time.

For more information or to register your interest call 020 8047 3350 or email

Record applications for Apprenticeships across the UK

A record 11 applications are being made for each apprenticeship vacancy in the UK, the latest official data suggests.  Almost 370,000 applications were submitted between February and April, while 32,600 vacancies were advertised in the same period. But competition was as high as 17 per place in the arts, media and ICT.

The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) said there had been a 32% increase in demand for such subsidised on-the-job training placements since last year. However, vacancies have not kept pace with rising demand, going up only 15% over the same period in the previous year. The number of applications per vacancy went above 11 for the first time, although it had been hovering around 10 for some time, according to the NAS. Nonetheless, the NAS said there were 17,700 available vacancies online late last month, the highest on record.

The most popular area for apprenticeships was business and administration, with 101,510 applications made and 7,702 vacancies posted online. But those seeking apprenticeships in the arts, publishing, media and ICT face the stiffest competition with 17 applications per vacancy.

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said apprenticeships were fast becoming the norm for young people who want to achieve their career goals through an alternative route to university. But he appealed to more businesses to offer young people a chance to train in their companies.

He said: “We want more employers to take advantage of the advice and support available from the National Apprenticeship Service and consider how hiring an apprentice could benefit their business.”

NAS executive director David Way said the figures demonstrated that the popularity of apprenticeships continued to rise and in a greater range of occupations than before.

The increase in vacancies shows that more and more individuals are seeing apprenticeships as a great way to start out in their chosen career.”

Government offers small and medium-sized companies grants of £1,500 to take on a 16 to 24-year-old as an apprentice. After moves to strengthen apprenticeships, they all now have to meet centrally specified standards and last at least a year. The changes came following the government-commissioned Richard review, which said the definition of apprenticeship had been “stretched too far” and needed to be rethought.

Vacancies advertised on the NAS database account for 80% of all UK vacancies.

Source: Extract from “Apprenticeships attract 11 applications per vacancy”, Hannah Richardson, BBC News, 31 May 2013

“Talent retention taken to new levels” – Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

Over 3,500 engineers, students and apprentices have already signed up to a flagship industry scheme designed to match engineering talent with new job opportunities, it has been announced today.

The national web-based Talent Retention Solution (TRS) brings together specialists whose jobs may be at risk or people who want to work in engineering – with companies that are looking to recruit skilled staff to satisfy growth in their companies.

Launched in 2011, TRS, was created by business for business. The scheme has now grown to include over 600 companies of all sizes supporting a number of sectors including aerospace, electronics, energy, construction and automotive. These include not only some of the UK’s largest companies – such as Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, BAE Systems and Siemens – but a range of midsized and smaller sized firms.

This number of companies on TRS is set to nearly double with the addition of the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) and British Glass as the latest sponsors of the scheme. Their participation in the scheme will immediately allow their member companies automatic access to TRS.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“What I like most about the TRS is how simple it is. It’s like an ‘eBay’ for engineers that matches vacancies with talent.

With successful manufacturers constantly telling me they struggle to recruit engineers, I hope the popularity of the TRS will encourage even more people to sign up – especially small businesses who can use it for free.”

Allan Cook, Chair of the Skills and Jobs Retention Group, which led the development of the TRS, and Chairman of Atkins, Selex ES and Finmeccanica UK, said:

“I am delighted with the service TRS is providing and how employers in our sector plan to expand it further. The involvement of our latest sponsors – ECITB and British Glass – is a further boost for TRS, given their tremendous reach with companies across a wide range of industries including nuclear, oil & gas, construction and glass manufacturing. This will enhance the scheme, adding to the companies that have supported TRS since its launch in 2011.

Many more companies and individuals will benefit from the exceptional access to talent that TRS offers. SMEs, students, apprentices and experienced engineers can all register at no cost – it’s a simple and effective way to see the career opportunities available in our most important and exciting industry. This is a win-win situation for employers, potential employees and the whole industry.”

Companies seeking to recruit engineering talent or people interested in working in engineering and who want to find out more are encouraged to visit the TRS website.


TSBC – The Small Business Consultancy launches enterprise programme in Hounslow

TSBC – The Small Business Consultancy, has launched ‘Engaging through Enterprise’ –  a programme aimed at embracing the entrepreneurial spirit of Hounslow’s unemployed young people.

The Small Business Consultancy will deliver the training programme, focused on 16 to 25 year olds, with the objective of equipping attendees with the skills and knowledge to become self-employed or enhancing entrepreneurial skills to combat the ongoing difficulties in securing full-time employment, with a focus on those who are:

– NEET or pre-exclusion students in school

– are in care

– are unemployed and / or

– have been involved with youth offending services.

The free course will run over 10 weeks (starting in May 2013) and participants will be encouraged and supported to look at a business idea and help set it up.

Sessions will run out of The Hanworth Centre, 64 Hounslow Road, Hanworth, TW13 6QQ; every Tuesday 2pm – 4:30pm. This will be followed by a year of support from volunteer mentors from the business community.

For more information, contact Hilda Djaba (Head of UK Programme Delivery – TSBC) on 0203 651 3112 or by e-mail at

Deutsche Bank launch programme to tackle youth unemployment

Deutsche Bank has launched a new UK corporate citizenship programme, ‘Born to Be’, which is committed to tackling the issue of youth unemployment. The programme is led by a new partnership with Sported, the sporting legacy foundation of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which combines sport with education to engage young people who are at risk of exclusion. The programme will also support a number of other non-profit organisations, such as The Globe Education and the Design Museum, that are working to break the cycle of youth unemployment through early intervention.

The Bank aims to reach over 160,000 young people in the UK through Born to Be over the next four years.

One in seven 16-24 year olds in the UK is not in employment, education or training (NEET), a situation that will cost the UK economy £28 bn over the next 10 years, according to the ACEVO Commission on Youth Unemployment.

Colin Grassie, Deutsche Bank UK Chief Executive Officer, said Born to Be would target 11-18 year olds at risk of becoming NEET via education-led projects aimed at increasing educational achievement, developing employability skills and raising aspirations.

Helping young people fulfil their potential and find who they were Born to Be is now at the heart of our corporate citizenship strategy,” Mr Grassie said. “Youth unemployment pushes young people to the margins of society. We want to provide support at an earlier stage when there is a much greater chance of helping young people find their path.”

A core project of the Sported partnership will be sporteducate, a programme that will provide grants, training and management support to 33 community sports clubs in targeted areas across London. The grants will enable clubs to run education activities alongside their core sports programmes for young people aged 11-18.

Deutsche Bank employees will be integral to the success of sporteducate by volunteering as coaches, mentors and club supporters, and also acting as business mentors to ensure the clubs are financially sustainable and able to develop and grow. Deutsche Bank has a strong volunteering culture with more than 2,000 of the bank’s UK employees – one in four – volunteering.

Sir Keith Mills, founder of Sported, said: “We’ve seen tremendous results from using sport to inspire young people from difficult backgrounds and we’re delighted to be working with Deutsche Bank as our first corporate partner to help even more young people transform their lives”.

Lord Seb Coe, patron of Sported, added: “This is the most significant investment by a corporate organisation in sport for development since London 2012.”

Source:, 8 May 2013