KATO work with year 13 at The Leigh Academy

A classroom of Leigh Academy students looking to the front of the class, whilst a teacher delivers a lesson.

Sincere thanks to Rebekah Shaxted of KATO (Kent Association of Training Organisations) for coming to The Leigh Academy to work with year 13 students who are not looking to go onto University but are looking rather at direct employment or an apprenticeship.

She began by explaining that apprenticeships cover many, many areas (there will be 700 different apprenticeship areas on offer by December 2020) and are for people of all ages; not just school leavers.

Initially, but not always, salaries can be low but there are many benefits to taking an apprenticeship:

  • Earn whilst you learn
  • Apprenticeships can include studying for a degree or even a masters degree
  • Apprentices are paid
  • No tuition fees
  • In some cases, the opportunity to relocate

86% of apprentices who complete their apprenticeship progress their career with that same employer.


She went on to explain to students who are looking to take an apprenticeship within the public services will find that there is often a contractual obligation to stay with that employer post completion of their apprenticeship.

She stressed the importance of having options and urged students to also, even at this late stage, consider applying to university. She also stressed that when applying for apprenticeships, students should apply for a minimum of five such opportunities. She stated that students would leave the session with the mantra “You can gain a degree as an apprentice”

Given the location of The Leigh Academy, students are fortunate that they have a good range of geographical apprenticeships available to them with many fantastic opportunities being advertised in London and the surrounding areas.

Apprenticeship levels

Rebekah then went on to discuss the levels of apprenticeships available and that the disciplines can be very different from what might, on the surface, appear to be. For example, a company such as Hovis, who are bakers,  are currently offering engineering apprenticeships.

In discussing higher and degree apprenticeships, Rebekah stressed the importance to employers of the skills that students can demonstrate. Much as there are many of these opportunities, they are competitive and students must display relevant skills and behaviours when applying, at interview and assessment


Group task

 To illustrate the types of skills and aptitudes that students will need to demonstrate, Rebekah asked the group to split into small teams and for one member of each team to pull a non technological item from their bag. Each team was then given a few minutes to discuss how they could “sell” this item in a pitch


Students took to this task well and in turn, each group gave a short sales pitch to the room.

Rebekah explained that some of the skills required to successfully execute this task and indeed, an apprenticeship interview, are:

  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Team Work
  • Problem Solving
  • Working under Pressure

Ultimately, students must be able to show that they are well rounded individuals. Students were also informed that employers will be looking for relevant previous work experience and interest in their given disciplines.

Finally, and to complete the workshop, students were taken on a journey to see how many apprenticeships they could find and that they could apply for. Firstly, they looked at the Vacancy Snapshot part of the Amazing Apprenticeships Website and then Find an Apprenticeship on the National Apprenticeship website. Students who had not yet registered were urged to do so.


Sincere thanks to Rebekah for her valuable time and advice.