For the second time, last night (24th November, 2016) I was able to attend the York Apprenticeship Graduation and graduate from my second apprenticeship.
This time was a little bit different though. As well as graduating, I had been invited back as the keynote speaker. Whilst I’m used to talking to groups of students, this was the first time I’d been invited to be a keynote speaker and I was very excited.
The York Apprenticeship Graduation, now in its sixth year, has turned into an amazing event. With over 140 apprentices graduating and over 300 of their family and friends (my parents included), this was the largest yet.
Being able to speak to over 400 people about apprenticeships was amazing. It’s no secret that I believe the apprenticeship pathway has been seriously undervalued. I used this opportunity to speak about the importance of sharing their experience of apprenticeships. You can watch my full speech below (apologies for the less than perfect video).
The graduation has been accompanied for the last three years by the York Apprenticeship Awards. Last year, I was honoured to be a finalist for the 16-24 apprentice in a large employer. The awards for 2016 were:
- York Apprentice of the Year 2016 (Aged 16-24, Smaller Employer)
- York Apprentice of the Year 2016 (Aged 16-24, Larger Employer)
- York Apprentice of the Year 2016 (Aged 25+)
- York Smaller Employer of the Year 2016
- York Larger Employer of the Year 2016
This year, however, there was an additional award: The Apprenticeship Ambassador of the Year award. It came as an absolute surprise when my name was announced as the winner. It was humbling enough to be invited to speak at the event, but to be awarded this was an incredible honour.
I’ve shared below a quote from the City of York Council’s press release from the evening:
Alan had returned to the ceremony to deliver a keynote speech where he shared his story and success to date, as a result of choosing the apprenticeship route, rather than University, after leaving school. Whilst employed as an apprentice at City of York Council, Alan delivered over 50 different assemblies and workshops to around 4000 young people and parents over a two year period.
As they announced the winner of the award, it was the first time I properly grasped the scale of what I’d been working on over two years. To know that I’ve been able to share my story with so many people and hopefully help them understand apprenticeships and their value is an amazing thought.
I’m so thankful for the York Apprenticeship Hub and all the work they do and for inviting me to speak this year. I’m grateful for York Learning who allowed me the flexibility to go and speak at many of these events during the work day. Although I am no longer in York, I hope that I can continue to support the York Apprenticeship Hub, as well as the wider apprenticeship offer.