Apprentices Prove Their Worth At Football League Clubs

By: Elaine Brand |
06/02/12 |
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Image: PA Photos)

Now in its fifth year National Apprenticeship Week kicked-off today and will run until Friday 10 February.

Apprenticeship Week is an opportunity to celebrate and recognise the essential role that Apprenticeships are playing in today’s business world, ensuring that the workforce has the skills it needs in order to remain competitive, even in difficult economic circumstances.

Apprenticeship Week 2012 is the chance for employers and Apprentices to highlight the benefits that Apprenticeships deliver on a daily basis.

Around 1200 Apprentices are currently making a difference at Football League Clubs up and down the country. Funded by the Skills Funding Agency 16-18 year-old footballers at these Clubs work towards an Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (ASE).

ASE combines football development with work based learning and education. It is designed to give young players the best possible opportunity of building and maintaining a career as a professional footballer whilst also affording them the chance to gain recognised academic qualifications that offer transferable skills for the future.

The success of this scheme has gone from strength to strength since its inception in 2004. Last year 92 per cent of Football League Apprentices passed every element (NVQ Level 3, Technical Certificate, Level 2 Certificate in Coaching & Key Skills) of their education programme – the third year in a row that over 90 per cent of players had achieved all elements of the framework.

In addition a number of current and former Apprentices have also been making their own headlines. League One Apprentice of the Year (2011), Dale Jennings made his mark on Tranmere Rovers first-team before switching to European giants Bayern Munich in July.

Last summer also saw other ASE graduates Jordan Henderson (Sunderland to Liverpool), Connor Wickham (Ipswich Town to Sunderland) and Carl Jenkinson (Charlton Athletic to Arsenal), involved in high profile transfers that took them to the very top level of the English game.

Dale Jennings, Connor Wickham & Jordan Henderson

Dale Jennings, Connor Wickham & Jordan Henderson (Images: PA Photos)

Southampton’s teenage star Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joined Jenkinson at Arsenal, and is now showing the potential that persuaded the Gunners to fork out a reported £15millon pounds for his services in August.

More recently a quartet of one current and three former ASE players made big money moves on transfer deadline-day. Marvin Sordell, Ryan Bennett, Nicky Maynard and Ryan Williams thought to be worth in excess of £10 million pounds in combined transfer fees.

Scores of other current and ex Apprentices play throughout the Football League while those that don’t make it pursue other pathways such as higher education, employment, training or other sports.

But whatever route they take the Apprenticeship they have followed provides them with transferable skills for life.

The message is clear: Apprenticeships are good for business, supplying employers with the skills they need, when they need them.

Throughout Apprenticeship Week, events and awareness raising activities are going to roll-out across the country, so if you are interested as either an employer or parent of a potential Apprentice then please visit www.apprenticeships.org.uk