Walking to Victory

Free2Learn were delighted to sponsor a recent fitness initiative run by one of our partners; United Road Transport Union (URTU). Free2Learn have partnered with URTU to offer Apprenticeship programmes to a number of well-known and respected employer brands up and down the country. The ‘walking challenge’ was introduced to show that URTU workplaces across the UK do care about ensuring their workforce is healthy, supporting simple exercises such as walking. The initiative also demonstrated to individuals just how far they walked during a typical working day including in their home life. This left many participants quite surprised at the distance they travelled.

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The competition had teams of up to ten individuals participating, all provided with pedometers to measure distances walked over a defined period. The team with the greatest combined distance were overall winners and within that team there was an individual winner for the greatest distance covered.

From all the teams that entered, the winning group that completed the challenge with the most steps was the ‘Sausage Strollers’, all based at XPO Logistics within the Weetabix complex at Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire. The top stepper, Daniel Bolwell, managed 179,000 steps, which is thought to average about seven miles a day walking around a warehouse. Fellow colleague Rob Drake came a close second.

John Cusworth, Head of Business Development for Free2Learn attended a presentation for the winning team with high street vouchers, sponsored by Free2Learn, for their great efforts. Also in attendance at the presentation was Barry Marks; URTU Education Project Manager, to award the certificates. A special thanks must also go to Kenny Wignall of XPO Logistics for coordinating and organising support within the workplace to ensure teams participated in this great initiative.

The main thanks should of course go to the winning team consisting of: Daniel Bowell, Rob Drake, Annika White, Dave Robinson, Ian Jones, Craig Taylor, Glenn Wright, Sherif Ibrahim and Paulo DeSilva.

Free2Learn look forward to supporting the next URTU initiative.

Doncaster boys’ football team scores success with sponsorship deal with training firm

Bessacarr U11s Greens have clinched a deal with the Hallgate based firm which will see the team, based at Cantley Park, carry the firm’s logo on its shirts next season. The team’s players gathered at the firm’s offices with manager Jon Cook and Free2Learn chief commercial officer Andy Hibbitt for a photo shoot.

Graduates VS Apprentices. What are businesses really looking for?

On the one hand, those with the potential for leadership. The idealists fit for the long run, with the mindset to move up through the ranks from day one. On the other hand, the pragmatic. The work-ready with practical skills and tailored niche knowledge, who can impact their team’s productivity right from the start.


Apprenticeships have been for far too long overshadowed by university degrees, and affected by a distorted perception in the UK. With the job market being more competitive than ever, employers became hesitant to hire and train young people under the wrong assumptions. However, ideas that apprenticeships involve too much effort; that they serve few industries; or that they have a lower status than college-based learning, is becoming obsolete.


Today, not only is there a range of training offers for over 170 industries, there is also an increasing awareness that businesses should accommodate both graduates and apprentices. So much so, that apprenticeships have reached record highs during the 2015 academic year. In England alone, organisations have welcomed 871,800 young learners, finding the skills they need for the growth they seek.


The rise of a new perception


Employers begin to understand that, in having to invest time training entry-level candidates, it turns out to be more productive to get hands-on staff; easily moldable into the organisations’ ways; without graduate salary demands for the duration of their training. Top brands such as BMW, Unilever, Virgin and BBC are among the businesses that better understand this reality. BAE Systems, one of the world’s leading providers of technology-led defense solutions, recruits over 400 apprentices each year in the UK; an example to show that wrong assumptions don’t necessarily correspond to the truth.


Yes, it is true that the term ‘apprenticeship’ has been misused to promote low-quality courses, getting young unemployed people into low-skilled, low-paid jobs with few progression opportunities. That is why the government is seeking to shield the term, in the same way that the title ‘degree’ is protected by legislation – to ensure that these comply with high standards and gain the same respect as higher education. And that is also why successful businesses choose legitimate providers who can prepare young professionals to integrate organisations’ culture and values. Giving them a sense of purpose, beyond functionality. Employers can (and should) design high-quality programmes in collaboration with the right partners, to recruit new talent and upskill existing employees.


Companies preparing to embrace apprenticeships and traineeships as they do graduate programmes, will not only acquire relevant skills to enhance their productivity, they will actively contribute to the socio-economic evolution in the UK. For a little perspective, half of young Germans choose apprenticeships over universities, securing long-term employment and efficiently benefiting their country. And apparently, their economy isn’t looking so bad: it is the strongest in Europe, with the lowest youth unemployment rates, and the fourth-largest economy by nominal GDP in the world. Food for thought.


To learn more about our apprenticeship programmes, call us on 01302 373 003.