Raising the participation age to 18

Raising the participation age to 18 does not mean you can’t leave school and go to work!

The Raising of the Participation Age (RPA) means that all young people will continue in education or training to 17 from 2013 and to 18 from 2015. This will be the first time in nearly forty years that the education leaving age has been raised.

But what does this mean for young people today?  A lot of parents and their teenagers are under the impression that raising the participation age means the youngsters have to stay on at school until they are 18.   Some schools are not particularly discouraging this viewpoint either and are not giving parents and their teenagers details of the full choices open to them.

Raising the participation age to 18 does not mean the age of compulsory education is raised to 18!  Nor does it mean all youngsters have to stay on at their secondary school until they are 18!

Raising the participation age means that all youngsters aged 18 and younger should be involved in some form of development, training and education.  This can be at school if they wish, it can be at college if they wish, and it also means they can be in a job with an employer as long as it has some training formally attached to it.  There are options out there!  It is the responsibility of everyone involved with the education and training of young people to make sure they are aware of all the options open to them so they can choose what it right for them!

Apprenticeships are a perfect vehicle for youngsters who do not want to stay in the mainstream education system and who, in fact, learn better by doing things.   Apprenticeships are the perfect choice for those who want to go to work!

Here at ITEC we have many success stories of bright, enthusiastic learners who develop and thrive by doing things rather than sitting in a classroom.  They want to be with an employer learning how to do things on the job.  This on-job learning can be supplemented once a week on day release where theory can be learned thus making an apprenticeship the best of both worlds.  You will also be earning in a real job while you are learning!

So if you are coming up to the end of your compulsory education at 16, remember you have choices!

Depending on your choice of career, you need to be aware of the options open to you.   If you are not sure and need some help, we are happy to give you impartial advice of the options open to you – although we specialise in apprenticeships, if this is not the right vehicle for you and your career choice, we will tell you and point you in the right direction to get the help and advice you need.    There is also a new on-line careers service available as well as, of course, the bible that is Google!!   After all what would be the point of selling you apples if you want pears?!!  Neither of us would be successful, would we?!

What do you think about the raising of the participation age??  Will it encourage you, and those that come after you, to make the most of the education and training options open to them?  Are there enough choices open to you?  What experiences have you had with getting the right advice about which options are open to you??

Share your experiences!

Hidden costs for apprentices??

An experiment into the hidden costs of training and apprenticeships for the learners (and their parents)!

Several years ago, when apprenticeships were re-born under the pseudonym of Modern Apprenticeships and before they morphed into the apprenticeships we know today, learners were able to take a level 2 apprenticeship with an employer as part of a work trial.   The learners received a training allowance of £40 per week, albeit not a substantial amount, but were reimbursed for all their travel and out of pocket expenses.  Nowadays, as we all know, all apprentices have to be employed at £2.60 per hour until they are over 19 years old and in the second year of their apprenticeship, when they qualify for the minimum wage.  Travel and out of pocket expenses now have to be found from their own pockets.  We wanted to know if the apprentices are better off on the new system or on the old system.

One of our apprentices has kept all of his travel tickets for the whole of the time he was on his programme and, having just completed today, he has brought them all in to us to show us how much it has cost him out of his wages.   This apprentice started on £95 per week and finished on the minimum wage.  However in checking his records, we realised he had also completed 2 training programmes before he started on his apprenticeship and on these programmes he would not have received any income or expenses whatsoever.  Here are our findings:-

  • Pre-apprenticeship travel costs including attending an interview and 2 courses:- £211.30.   There was no income at all during this training so all out of pocket expenses were paid by the learner (or more likely than not, his parents!)
  • Level 2 apprenticeship took 40 weeks.  During this time the learner was employed within walking/cycling distance of his home and was paid £95 per week by his employer.   The learner attended day release at the ITEC, which cost him travel of £436.40 over the 40 weeks.  These expenses were not reimbursed by his employer.
  • This learner progressed on to a level 3 apprenticeship but his employer elected to do only work-based units rather than day release courses.  This meant there were fewer day release attendance days needed so although the apprenticeship took 19 months, the travel costs incurred were just £40 – a much better result for this learner if you are only taking out of pocket expenses into account!

These findings do show that the apprentices are better off on the ‘newer’ employed system than they were on the £40 per week plus expenses system.

However, it does beg a question – our staff members would be reimbursed for any travel and out of pocket expenses for attending courses, even when they are attending on a day release basis so why don’t employers of apprentices reimburse these costs?  Is it that these were always catered for already under the old-style apprenticeships and employers just haven’t caught up?  Maybe it just doesn’t occur to them?

What do you think?

ITEC Awards 2012 – Results

ITEC Awards 26th April 2012 – Results

The annual ITEC Awards for 2012 were held at the Bowers & Pitsea Social Club on Thursday 26th April 2012.  It was an excellent evening and the turn out from learners, parents, friends, family, employers, sponsors and ITEC partners was incredible.  The buffet was plentiful with delicious food supplied by Stephanie and the drinks were club prices… excellent!

As the Chief Executive, I opened the evening and Amanda, our Youth Programmes Manager, announced the finalists, the runner-up and the winner for each category.   (Once we had finally got used to the microphone and I had sorted out my ‘reverb’!)

There was a little sticky point where I had forgotten to give the first few winners their Amazon gift vouchers when they came up to receive their trophies.    I had carefully arranged the trophies and envelopes with winners’ names on my table in the order the trophies were being presented.   The little devils had wedged themselves in the bottom of the envelopes so I didn’t remember they were there until one came out with the winner’s certificate!  Once that was sorted, it was plain sailing.

BUSINESS ADMIN APPRENTICE OF THE YEAR 2012 – sponsored by Mercedes-Benz of Southend

The finalists were Jamie Bligh, Charlotte Rider, Lauren Smith, Lisa Spinks and Connor Sturt

WINNER – Jamie Bligh

RUNNER-UP – Lisa Spinks



The finalists were Torin Grimes, Camilla Hards, Matthew Marven, Dean Sutton, Jack Vanson and Joshua Wild

WINNER – Joshua Wild

RUNNER-UP – Jack Vanson



The finalists were Peter Devlin, Michelle Milton, Kay Wood and Jacqueline Woodcock

WINNER – Kay Wood

RUNNER-UP – Michelle Milton



The finalists were Bailey Allen, Luke Baker, Michael Cantle, Jack Featherstone and Jonathan Knill

WINNER – Michael Mantle

RUNNER-UP – Bailey Allen


ADVANCED APPRENTICE OF THE YEAR 2012 – sponsored by Vertical Systems

The finalists were Greg Cater, Jamie Goodman, James Sirdifield, Danielle Spencer and Richard Stapleton

WINNER – James Sirdifield

RUNNER-UP – Richard Stapleton


COMPTIA LEARNER OF THE YEAR 2012 – sponsored by CompTIA UK

The finalists were Peter Devlin, Sam Garner, Jamie Goodman, Tommee Howat and James McLean

WINNER – Peter Devlin

RUNNER-UP – James McLean

RUNNER-UP – Sam Garner


MICROSOFT LEARNER OF THE YEAR 2012 – sponsored by Microsoft UK

The finalists were Peter Devlin, Tommee Howat, Danny Lewis, Luke Mead and Richard Stapleton

WINNER – Luke Mead

RUNNER-UP – Richard Stapleton


EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR 2012 – sponsored by gtslearning

The finalists were Computer Assist, Ipeco Holdings, JC Design, Vertical Systems and Vertex@ Thurrock Borough Council

WINNER – Vertex@Thurrock Borough Council



WINNER – Pauline Prior


LINE MANAGER OF THE YEAR 2012 – sponsored by FOS.net

The finalists were Liz Allen (Guardian Water Treatment), Paul Brown (Chelmsford College), Alan Loughlin (Essex County Cricket), Steve Page (Mayflower High School) and Richard Sinclair (Eastern Data)

WINNER – Steve Page, Mayflower High School



The finalists were Stacey Brenchley, Michelle Milton, Rebecca Wakerley and Joshua Wild

WINNER – Joshua Wild


We had a few records broken during these awards:-


  • Richard Stapleton and Joshua Wild became the first learners to win 2 awards each
  • Peter Devlin is the first learner to make the finals of 3 award categories
  • Luke Mead and Michael Cantle were the first learners to win awards after winning runner-up awards the previous year
  • Connor Sturt and Richard Sinclair were the first finalists to make the finals after such a short time on the programme
  • Stacey Brenchley and Rebecca Wakerley are the first learners to make the finals again after winning awards the previous year


The evening was such a success, we can’t wait until next year!!