Apprentice urges young to join sector, help economy recover post-Covid

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Following the government announcement that it would cancel GCSE and A-Level exams in 2021, education experts warned of a “lost generation” of pupils whose conventional academic journey had been decimated. But here, apprentice Sasha Harvey, a trainee site engineer for leading contractor and developer Anderson based in Essex, explains why the move might encourage new blood into the workforce to help the economy recover post-Covid.

Generation Z – anyone from the age of seven to 24 – has largely avoided the direct physical health impact of the coronavirus. But there have been fears raised that they have been catastrophically hit by the collateral damage wrought by the crisis instead as well as the impact on their mental health.

Not only were exams cancelled for the class of 2020, but this year’s cohort have also been told they will not be assessed this way – leading to further concerns that they may not be able to fulfil their academic potential.

Sasha Harvey
Sasha Harvey

But it’s possible that these young people might look at other pathways that they may not have previously considered – and find a new route to their dream career.

After all, the government’s £2billion Kickstart scheme is designed to help young people into work and there are opportunities out there in industries like construction – which is going to be key to rebuilding our economy in the years ahead.

What are the options?

One of the best ways to get started in the workplace is through an apprenticeship like mine. Not only can you earn while you learn but completing an apprenticeship can increase your future earning potential.

On top of that, there are loads of career choices. People often think that apprenticeships are for just practical jobs but actually there are positions in coaching, business administration, customer service, digital technology, hairdressing and even management positions. 

What’s more, with an apprenticeship, you get real, ‘hands-on’ practical experience in a real job role, learning the right skills in a real environment – this is the kind of experience that employers look for when recruiting new staff.

Getting into the workplace

I started working for Anderson at 16 as part of its apprenticeship scheme. I was passionate about maths and design at school and university could have been an option for me, but I had a father and grandparents who worked in the construction industry and I’d be lying if I said he wasn’t one of my biggest inspirations.

I would hang out at my dad’s workplace from the age of 13 and lend a hand on Saturdays and realised that it was a lot more fun than being stuck in a classroom.

I have now been on my site engineering apprenticeship for two years, have started my level 3 BTEC in construction and the built environment and will eventually earn my level 5 HNC.

In general, I think apprenticeships are a great option for any young person – but especially those who are now doubting the plans they had made pre-pandemic.

Be at the forefront of post-Covid recovery

The construction sector has recently come to the forefront of Government policies, particularly with the pledge to build a significant number of houses and affordable housing.

As a result, it has also become one of the largest sectors of the economy.

Because of this boom in the industry, there is a shortage of skilled labour combined with an aging workforce. And this means there are jobs to be had – in fact, employers in the built environment are crying out for workers.

As the country begins to recover from the impact of the pandemic there will be lots of people out of work – but opportunity exists, particularly for those who may have had to change course as a result of cancelled exams.

For information on apprenticeships offered by Chelmsford-based Anderson, visit