National Apprenticeship Week: Nailing the lies

Posted on 5 Mar 2019 by Nick Peters

As National Apprenticeship Week is marked across the UK, The Manufacturer has been talking to some apprentices from the Nissan Skills Academy to get first-hand understanding of what being a modern apprentice is all about

The Manufacturer met a group of young women apprentices from the Nissan Skills Academy as they prepared to address an event at the House of Lords organised by the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week.

They compared their exciting and challenging experiences as apprentices at Nissan in Sunderland with the tired old misconceptions of recent decades that have written off technical education as second best to academic university degrees. It seems these misconceptions are still alive.

The young women apprentices – who are still outnumbered 9-to-1 by men in manufacturing – told us:

  • Schools are still peddling the falsehood that university is the only route to a decent career
  • They are outstripping their school contemporaries who went to university
  • They are taking degrees while working
  • Getting a well-paid job will be much easier as an apprentice


While the picture they paint is optimistic, current press reports suggest schools are cutting back on the technical elements of STEM classes because government funding cuts mean they can’t afford specialist equipment.

Ian Green, Controller of the Nissan Skills Academy, agreed that funding is an issue, but told us that even when his foundation offered £1,000 of kit free to schools, uptake and engagement was limited.

Ian will be Nick Peters’s guest on the next The Manufacturer podcast on March 11th.