Get ready for National Apprenticeship Week 2016

14-18 March 2016 sees the return of the popular National Apprenticeship Week. Co-ordinated by the Skills Funding Agency to celebrate the positive impact of apprenticeships and traineeships on people, businesses and the wider economy, it involves hundreds of events and activities across England.


During the week, employers, apprentices, business support organisations, colleges and training organisations and schools across the country will be encouraged to host activities to showcase the achievements and benefits of apprenticeships.


Over the next five years, the government is committed to three million new apprenticeships, so they are keen to promote their many benefits – and National Apprenticeship Week is the perfect opportunity to spread the word.


23,000 new vacancies were pledged in 2015


Apprenticeships and traineeships play an important role in upskilling the nation and increasing productivity, and during last year’s National Apprenticeship Week a record-breaking 23,000 new apprenticeship vacancies were pledged. 200 new businesses also joined the Trailblzer programme to design high quality apprenticeships, and degree apprenticeships were launched.


This year, the National Apprenticeship Service are setting their sights even higher, as their Director Sue Husband says:


“Last year’s National Apprenticeship Week saw some tremendous achievements, but I want next year’s National Apprenticeship Week to be the best yet. I am looking forward to once again raising the profile of apprenticeships and traineeships and celebrating the important role they play in equipping people of all ages with the skills that they need to prosper in their lives.”


You can find out more about this year’s National Apprenticeship Week here.

Break that corporate tension with these 5 team building ice breakers

Creating a friendly office environment is one of the most challenging tasks a manager faces in their early stages of developing a successful team. Any office can be civil but it takes time and effort for a group of individuals to function together as a team and achieve results.

In the words of Henry Ford “Coming together is the beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”

So how can a manager help his or her team connect with one another? Building trust between members is critical to building a team so we’ve put together five of the best ice-breakers for the start of team meetings that will take your team from a small-talk office to a “going out together after work” office in no time.

Guess Who
There’s always an element of mystery about new colleagues; what are their hobbies? Do they have a family? What music do they like? Most people feel uncomfortable asking these questions but you can hide all curiosity behind Guess Who where colleagues will share personal information they’re comfortable with. The idea of this game is to give team members slips of paper and ask them to write two things about themselves that no one at work will know about. Collect them all then shuffle. Give each colleague a slip of paper and let them read and guess the owner of these two facts. Most colleagues will elaborate on the two facts without prompting but if not, as the manager, ask some leading questions to encourage them to explain a bit more. You’ll find common interests, shocking facts and there are bound to be some fun facts that get the team laughing.

Fear in a hat
Fear in a hat is a great team building exercise to build unity and group cohesion. Each person writes a personal fear anonymously on slips of paper which are collected in a hat and read aloud. Each person tries to describe his or her understanding of the person’s fear. This game will lead to good discussions about those fears.

Vertical names
In this particular game, each colleague writes their name vertically on a sheet of paper and then list one word horizontally that starts with each letter of their name and that has to describe something about them. Some colleagues may feel embarrassed to describe themselves in a positive way so as manager set the pace by writing your name first and being as dramatic and fun as possible, it will get the team comfortable enough to be as honest and positive about themselves too. This is a great personal and team building exercise.

The imaginary line
This game will divide your office in a good way. Create an imaginary line along your office with one side being “for” and one side being “against”, anything in between will indicate “indifferent” or “unsure”. For this game you will ask colleagues to choose between two things, it could be coffee or tea, white chocolate or milk chocolate, Hawaii or New York. This is a great way for colleagues to see who has a similar preference to them. Be careful not to choose anything too controversial such as religious or political preferences, stick with light-hearted and fun.

My story is our story
Story-time is not just for children! This is an alternative yet fun way to get the office giggles. Gathered in a circle, each colleague will vocally share a funny incident that happened in their life in one sentence, the next colleague will carry the story on by adding something funny has happened in their life. The idea is to go around the circle two or three times. This is a great way for colleagues to feel connected, having created one hilarious story from their own personal tales.

These games will enable team members to show their vulnerability and help you build a cohesive and trusting team.

These are our five top ice breakers, which will you be trying for your team? Comment below or tweet us @F2LAW.

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New Care Workers Will Have to Earn a Training Certificate

A new scheme coming into play from March 2015 will see all new care workers having to earn a training certificate within 12 weeks of starting their job.

The scheme will come into place in England across hospitals, care homes and for people who care for others in their own homes and is designed to provide more balance to identified inconsistencies in training levels of care workers.

The training will include subjects suck as infection control, dementia care and patient dignity.

The government is taking more of an interest in investing in training for health care assistants and raising standards and continue to review training requirements.

The responsibility for staff to gain the qualification will lie with the employers, with them having to ensure that all new team members gain the certificate within 12 weeks of starting work. This training can be provided fully funded through Free2Learn at Work.