During the past week I’ve been working for a new client, business guru Robert Ashton as he prepares to launch Swarm – a new company that will offer a unique apprenticeship to young people. This has involved me wearing two hats – one to write and distribute material for the press and the other to take photographs. I must say that I really enjoy being able to work on projects that enable me to use a wider set of skills. Very often with commercial photography I’ll take the photos and that’s that – whereas with a job like this I’m able to take the brief from the client and supply both the words and pictures. So below you find what I’ve been up to – there will be more next week after the launch event!
New apprenticeship to be launched in Watton during Apprenticeships week
Swarm is an exciting and innovative new company that will launch on March 13 at Wayland Academy in Norfolk.The new venture will offer young people the chance to undertake an Enterprise Apprenticeship that will teach them all about running a business while working for a local company.
The Swarm apprenticeship is the first of its kind and is the brainchild of social entrepreneur Robert Ashton who wants to make it easier for small businesses to take on an apprentice without the need for excessive expense and beaurocracy. To make this happen he has set up Swarm with the support of City College Norwich, the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, Norfolk County council and the Federation of Small Businesses.
Swarm is a membership organisation that creates clusters of enterprising apprentices working with small businesses that want to grow. Each cluster will be centered on a market town, so that both businesses and apprentices can work together as a group. Swarm will employ the apprentices, freeing member businesses of much of the bureaucracy often associated with apprenticeships. Each Swarm group will contain ten businesses, ten apprentices and see the training delivered locally by City College Norwich.
Year 11 Students from Wayland Academy were able to have a pre-launch preview of the scheme, when Robert visited the school at the end of February to tell them more about how the apprenticeship will work. He was joined by Tom Llewellyn, Community Investment Officer at Orbit Housing who will be sponsoring the Watton group.
“We see this as a fantastic opportunity to grow businesses and jobs for young people in a town where we provide a significant number of homes,” said Tom. “Our sponsorship means that businesses literally just pay the wage of their apprentice. All the support and back up is covered by our investment.”
The students heard how a Swarm Apprenticeship would give them the opportunity to work with a local small company or organisation to get under the skin of how business works, to learn practical skills and to get paid while undertaking the year-long course. They also heard how City College Norwich plans to support their learning by delivering a weekly training day at Wayland Academy, which will lead to a SFEDI level 3 diploma in “Enterprising Skills in a Business Environment”.
Businesses will pay each month for the time their apprentice is with them and be encouraged to share their experiences as part of the group’s weekly training day. Each apprentice and business will be helped to measure their impact on the businesses’ bottom line. “We want to focus the youngsters on making money for their businesses’”, Robert Ashton explained, “so that they can grow a job for themselves when they gain their qualification. We want them to very quickly become indispensable to the business.”
Many of the students at the presentation were excited by the possibilities offered by the new apprenticeship. Arkadiusz Brzezinski has set his sights on running his own restaurant business one day and was the first to sign up for the scheme. “I’m looking for the right training that will help me gain the skills and experience to help me succeed and this course is a way for me to achieve my dream”, he said.
Michael Rose, Head Teacher at Wayland Academy was also very positive about the scheme: “I think it is wonderful that Norfolk is leading the way in this new initiative. We have masses of untapped potential in our young people waiting to be released and realized – this project is a significant step in that direction.”
Swarm officially launches during National Apprenticeship Week at Wayland Academy on Wednesday 13th March at 18.30. Local businesses are invited to come along to the event to find out more about how the scheme will work and how their business could benefit. Prospective swarm student and their parents are also invited to attend the launch. To find out more call Robert Ashton on 01953 605000 or email Robert@robertashton.co.uk