QA hosted an event at the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday 5th March with three key aims.

Firstly, it gave apprentices and organisations directly involved in apprenticeships an incredible setting to celebrate the transformational power of blending learning with on-the-job experience.

Secondly, it was an opportunity to ask questions during National Apprenticeship Week, when apprenticeships are front and centre in the public eye. QA put together a line-up of leading voices including former Shadow Education Minister Sharon Hodgson (who also sponsored the Terrace Pavilion for QA), Editor-in-Chief of the Good Schools Guide Lord Lucas and Chief Executive of the Sutton Trust, James Turner to discuss key topics affecting the sector with a particular focus on social mobility.

Thirdly, with such an iconic backdrop and a room full of current apprentices the event served as the perfect setting to crown the winner of first-ever QA’s 2019 National Apprenticeship Week Apprenticeship Inspiration Award.

Speaking on the event, Sharon Hodgson MP said:

It’s such a pleasure to be able to support a celebration of apprenticeships during National Apprenticeship Week. A diverse higher and further education system is crucial, not only to reduce the UK skills gap, but also to provide for diverse learning demands. Apprenticeships are a force of real social mobility, and are incredibly democratising in giving those for whom the university model doesn’t work opportunities to become qualified. The ability to earn whilst you learn is fantastic for the apprentice and great for employers to invest in their staff – and ultimately businesses benefit with a skilled workforce. The modern apprenticeship is really incredible and goes beyond the trades that are stereotypically associated with the sector – offering learners the potential to attain even Masters level degrees in technical subject areas without going into debt. A win for the learner, a win for the employer and a win for the economy!”

The event also featured addresses from key representatives from QA including Managing Director of QA Apprenticeships Ben Pike and Chief Learner Officer Tom O’Reilly.

Ben Pike said:

“It’s a true honour to celebrate this transformative sector in such an iconic location. Apprenticeships don’t always get the positive coverage they deserve, so it is great to be having a reason to unashamedly gather to sing its praises. A fantastic opportunity too for apprentices and businesses to talk to legislators about what is and isn’t working to ensure the sector delivers upon the social mobility and high-quality, high-level apprenticeship aspirations that we are all working towards delivering.”

At an event where the focus was very much on apprentices themselves it seemed appropriate that the event culminated in the presentation for the Winner of QA’s 2019 National Apprenticeship Week Apprenticeship Inspiration Award. In its inaugural year, the award was presented to Joshua Uwadiae, a former apprentice who turned his life around from associating with Hackney gangs to becoming an entrepreneur, who discussed the impact that an IT apprenticeship had on his life.

Upon collecting the award, Joshua, now founder and CEO of successful startup WeGym, gave a rousing speech that left a lasting impression on the audience of 250 gathered in the Terrace Pavilion. “Life is what you make of it," he said. "It doesn’t matter how far or fast you go - just go."


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QA Group: Niki Haywood

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