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Angela Bovell had been unemployed for 12 months after caring for her father for eight years. In August the 52-year-old mother and grandmother started an apprenticeship as a community banker with Barclays.
She is one of the first cohort of Bolder Apprentices, a new initiative launched by the bank which opens apprenticeships up to older people who have had or taken time out of work, for instance, for caring responsibilities.
Angela works in the Barclays Bayswater branch. Previously she had done secretarial and clerical jobs, in offices and schools, dealing with a wide range of people across all ages. She also spent a few years as a carer for the elderly in residential homes. However, in the year before she took up her apprenticeship she had missed the hustle and bustle of work life. She says she is thrilled to be back in the workplace in a completely new role for her.
The ‘Bolder Apprenticeships’ scheme is the first apprenticeship scheme aimed at people over 24. It involves people who are returning to work or starting a new career taking up apprenticeships, working in business areas such as contact centres, community banking and fraud offices.
The scheme is part of Barclays Apprenticeship programme which was launched in April 2012. Barclays began with just eight apprentices in Personal Banking and has since grown the programme across every business unit in the UK and also internationally – recruiting its 2,000th apprentice at the end of 2014.
Barclays’ apprenticeships are aimed at those with little or no experience in the banking sector and are designed to grow confidence and build experience and skills. They constitute a permanent role and career pathway.
For the Bolder Apprenticeships, Barclays is looking for adults over 24, with no age limit. They must have no more than one A-Level (or equivalent) or less than a Level 2 qualification and have been out of work for over 12 months or “underemployed” (doing less than 16 hours per week).
The programme has a pre-apprenticeship element to help prepare, support and select individuals through tailored training, run and funded by Barclays. This consists of 10 days of full time, classroom-based training focused on basic employability skills. Modules include: preparing for the workplace, employability skills and business skills, literacy and numeracy support, customer service, digital awareness, confidence and core skills. This is followed by a one-week work placement with Barclays; including coaching and further learning support. Apprenticeships are offered to successful candidates on completion of training. Successful apprentices will work within Barclays on a 12-month Level 2 apprenticeship programme. After this, successful apprentices will be offered a permanent role or career pathway.
The first people on the Bolder Apprenticeships, including Angela, did their classroom-based training and work experience in London and Northampton in June and began their 12-month return to work apprenticeships in August.
More return to work apprenticeships will be offered in Barclays’ Liverpool & Sunderland Skybranch centres.
Mike Thompson, Director of Apprenticeships at Barclays, said: “Once out of work, older workers face a much tougher task to find the opportunities to get back into full employment again. We believe that age or social circumstances shouldn’t be a barrier or deciding factor in finding a viable route to employment. Reskilling can be achieved at any age. Barclays has launched the Bolder Apprenticeship programme to demonstrate our commitment to creating career opportunities regardless of age. From today, we want to start a conversation with other businesses to increase collaboration, regardless of sector or industry, to address how we can maximise the valuable contribution older workers make.”
The programme is set to grow, but those who are interested in registering their details, should check here or email Apprenticeships@capita.co.uk quoting ‘Return to Work’ Apprenticeship Programme with an accompanying CV and cover-letter. Barclays says part-time and full-time roles will be available but applicants would need to commit to two weeks of full-time training in the first instance.