North East Connected

National Apprenticeship Week 2021: Daniel cooks up a career in education

A Higher Apprenticeship is opening the doors to a career in education for Daniel Coyne which all started in a football club café.

Daniel was the hospitality manager in a café, based at the Foundation of Light, Sunderland AFC’s registered charity. His dedication and commitment to training staff was spotted by the Foundation and he was offered the role of Skills Tutor, teaching hospitality and home-cooking techniques to young people and their families across the city.

Alongside the position was the opportunity to develop his teaching skills, through a Higher Learning and Skills Teacher Apprenticeship (Level 5), in partnership with the University of Sunderland. The experience he says has been “transformational”.

“I jumped at the chance when I was offered this role, and have not looked back, I’m learning so much at University and progressing in this role,” says the 31-year-old, from Penshaw.

This week we are celebrating our apprentices, partners and staff, as part of National Apprenticeship Week 2021. Apprentices are employees who spend most of their time in the workplace, supported by dedicated study time with the University. Learning while working, then applying that learning back into the workplace.

The University is currently working with more than 60 employers across the region, delivering successful higher and degree apprenticeship programmes. One of those employers is the Foundation of Light.

Linda Hughes, Head of Skills, at the Foundation of Light, said: “Apprentices have been a huge asset to our business since 2012. The apprenticeship scheme is a great opportunity to bring people into the Foundation and shape their skills. This also ensures we have a succession plan, as our staff can continue to support our business and deliver an excellent range of programmes. It’s a great way to bring in staff who complement the existing workforce as the apprentices give our business an added strength by bringing both new knowledge and skills which contributes positively to the team.

She added: “We chose to work with the University of Sunderland as it was clear the University’s education provision had a good reputation. As a former University of Sunderland PGCE student, I knew the courses were great. Through our conversations with the programme lead, it was clear that there was flexibility surrounding the programme’s content and assessment.”

Linda explained that Daniel, alongside Rob Burns, another Degree Apprentice, have created a series of cooking programmes through Zoom sessions. Due to COVID-19 the Foundation had had to rethink the way they deliver their own programmes. But despite this, they have continued to deliver food packs to families and adults, so they are able to cook from home. These packs are fully funded, so the family does not have to pay, and they get dropped to their door.

Linda said: “Dan and Rob both have put a huge level of care and detail toward their learners and have shown a level of dedication which has been phenomenal.”

Daniel says he has developed so much since joining the apprenticeship last October.

“In just a short space of time I’m engaging with learners so much more, he says. “I lesson plan a lot better and am much more prepared. It’s really worked well for me and I would 100 percent recommend the programme to anyone else wanting to develop their skills in the workplace.

“This is something I never would have pursued if I hadn’t been given the opportunity. I can now open more doors for myself as a result!”

Andrea Brown, Senior Lecturer (PCET) at the University of Sunderland, said: “The Learning and Skills Teacher Apprenticeship is a new venture for us and we felt this apprenticeship offered another route to get into teaching for work-based learners. The apprenticeship removes any financial burden from the individual and allows them access to higher education that may not have been an option previously.  In this way, both the apprentice teacher and the employer win, as new skills, knowledge and behaviours are brought back into the workplace for the benefit of all.  We have some fantastic people on this apprenticeship and I have been impressed by the level of enthusiasm, commitment and fortitude they have displayed during these challenging times. I have seen first-hand how passionate about their learners my apprentices at the Foundation of Light and Beacon of Light School are, and how hard they work to make a positive impact within their community.  Dan and Rob’s story is just one of many great stories yet to tell.”

The University of Sunderland launched its Degree Apprenticeship programme almost four years ago and has established a proven record among a range of clientele, seeing 672 apprentices beginning their programme, in a range of subject areas.

Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University, said: “Providing high-quality apprenticeships is a vital part of our role as an anchor institution in the north-east of England. We are delighted to be working in partnership with so many different employers to provide them with the skilled people they need to thrive in the future.

“For the individuals involved, an apprenticeship is a terrific way to enhance their career prospects and job opportunities. If you are interested, do you contact us to find out more about these excellent qualifications.”

This is the 14th annual National Apprenticeship Week, a week-long celebration that takes place across England, showcasing the impact apprenticeships can have on communities, local businesses and regional economies and how they all benefit from the impact of apprenticeships.

Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, Gillian Keegan said: “Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to learn while you earn, opening up new and exciting career paths that can transform lives. It’s been a tough year for everyone, but we want the theme for National Apprenticeship Week 2021 to be a springboard to look ahead to how apprenticeships can futureproof workforces and boost careers.”

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