Tackling youth unemployment


Following on from Career Week, we were delighted to have the opportunity to talk to Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle, Natalie Green about youth employment.

As a former leader of the Green Party, member of the House of Lords and an Officer of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Youth Employment, Ms Green is passionate about education and supporting opportunities for young people.

We’d like to thank her for taking the time to speak to our Managing Director, Clare Phizacklea, and one of the newest members of our team, Terri-Anne Fell, who has recently joined us as a marketing apprentice.

Topics of conversation included the history of Busy Bees Education and training, the challenges facing the apprenticeship market, and the landscape for the future of training. Here’s what was discussed:

Baroness Bennett: Tell me more about the story behind Busy Bees Education and Training?

Clare Phizacklea: Busy Bees started back in 1983 when the founders, who were all in education, couldn’t find any suitable provision for their own children. They set up their own nursery and now 38 years later there’s 370 nurseries in the UK, as well as settings in Canada, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Ireland and Italy.

The training and education arm was created to ensure we had consistent culture, policies and procedures across all sites. Since our earliest days, we've accessed that funding to support our passion of having highly qualified educators in our nurseries. We felt we were doing that successfully for early years and branched out to support external clients in other industries.

In addition to offering apprenticeships in early years, we offer management qualifications and adults care qualifications at levels, as well as a range of CPDs and short courses. We are also helping a lot of small employment providers with digital access to the non-levy funding.

Baroness Bennett: Terri-Anne, could you tell me a little bit about how you came to be an apprentice, why you chose that route and what it's like?

Terri-Anne Fell: Last year I was in a temporary role working for a radio station. I was working alongside the marketing department and decided to take it upon myself to boost my skills. When the job came to an end, I realised I really wanted to stay in the sector, but as I applied for jobs, I realised that I didn't fulfil the necessary requirements – despite having those self-taught skills. 

This marketing apprenticeship with Busy Bees Education and Training came along, and I feel I’ve found my feet in a different avenue. I’m excited to see where it’ll take me as I’m able to learn while actually doing the job. It's really cool to be able to get paid alongside the learning and also carry on building my skillset through the apprenticeship.

Baroness Bennett: That’s a lovely, good news story. My question is to both of you, what barriers have there been? What things have been difficult about doing an apprenticeship?

Clare Phizacklea: Due to lockdown we can’t host events and roadshows like we used to, so it's difficult to try and get people to know about these opportunities – especially at a time when so many people need them.

We're trying to work with employers to ensure they know about all of the support available. We also see many smaller employers having difficultly accessing funding, so provide guidance that allows them to recruit their own apprentices.

Baroness Bennett: I think there’s still a huge amount of stereotyping in the general public about what an apprentice is capable of. Society is moving on but there is still work to do. How can we move past this?

Clare Phizacklea: The move to standards instead of frameworks, and the end-point assessments have helped to raise the quality of apprenticeships. More employers are recognising the value they can bring to an organisation.

There is still a stigma around apprenticeships compared to the more academic route, but the higher-level apprenticeships and management apprenticeships in particular have changed the way many people think. Maybe we need to change the terminology!

Baroness Bennett: Terri-Anne, I’m interested in how long your apprenticeship is, what you hope to do with it and what your friends think?

Terri-Anne Fell: I’m 24 so many of my friends have graduated. When I tell them I’m an apprentice they ask if I’m paid an apprenticeship’s wage. Luckily, I’m paid well by Busy Bees Education and Training because they recognise I’m doing an important role and contributing to the company.

My apprenticeship will last between 12-18 months and afterwards I hope to carry on working here. I love it, and I’m so excited that I’m learning something I really, really enjoy doing. I was putting my own time into my development, and now it’s great that other people are putting in their time too.

Baroness Bennett: Thank you for a really informative and interesting discussion, I think it’s really important we get more exposure and understanding around apprenticeships. Keep up the hard work, and I wish you all the best!

At Busy Bees Education and Training we’re committed to supporting young people and helping them find employment opportunities. If you’re looking to start your career, we have a number of apprenticeships vacancies on offer, which you can view here.

If you’re an employer and want to find out more about how we can help you, visit our employer page.