Apprenticeship week backed by waste sector  

National Apprentice Week 2021 ran from 8 to 14 February – Robyn White takes a look at programmes across the sector, as the demand for green jobs increases.

FCC Environment

Despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic, waste and recycling businesses have again supported National Apprenticeship Week. 

Enthusiasm was strong, including from waste and resources business Veolia. The company noted that the demand for green jobs from younger generations is “rapidly increasing” with an estimated 50% of people after 18-34 eager to start a career that contributes to protecting the planet.

The company is one of many in the sector which recognises the importance of apprenticeship schemes. Its executive vice president, Gavin Graveson, explained that with this growing interest in green jobs, and much needed “green recovery”, the industry needs these “skilled minds to pave the way”.

The waste management company has seen a 115% increase in apprenticeship intakes since 2017, with 154 new starts and 117 completions in 2020.


Another major waste management company, FCC Environment, also explained its 18-month graduate programme last week and its work on apprenticeships.

FCC Environment supported apprenticeship week, pictured is one of the company’s apprentices, Sara Afu-Clackett

The FCC Graduate Scheme is designed to give employees “hands-on” experience and training across a variety of waste management projects.

On the programme, each graduate is assigned a mentor to guide them every step of the way and are awarded qualifications relevant to their specific role.

FCC Environment’s head of human resources, Lesley Callaghan, explained: “We understand how competitive the job market is, especially for young people looking for their first role, and are thrilled to be able to offer apprenticeships as well as our Graduate Scheme.”

Ms Callaghan added: “Apprenticeships are available across the business, ranging from mechanical and electrical to sustainable resource management and business administration. Apprentices can apply through our website, the National Apprenticeship website or Energy Utility Jobs, and we work very closely to ensure that they are well supported throughout the programme.


The metals recycling sector backed the apprenticeship week

Other industry sectors, including metals and plastics, are also involved in apprenticeship programmes. A second sector-specific apprenticeship, the level 5 Metal Recycling Technical Manager (MRTM) has been launched.

According to the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA), the MRTM apprenticeship is set to become the “new route for technical competence”.

The course is designed as a learning route for more experienced individuals in the industry, such as depot or site managers. MRTM apprentices learn about the management of day-to-day operations of a site and learn to be accountable for all activity, including health and safety; environmental and regulatory impacts; financial responsibility; and community relationships.

Antonia Grey of the BMRA said: “With a predicted first cohort of some 20 learners, it is very rewarding to see the metals recycling industry embracing their own level 5 apprenticeship. Alongside the level 2 Metals Recycling General Operative, we really are building a strong career path for employees in the sector.

“A lot of work was put in by the Trailblazer group to develop the MRTM apprenticeship and we are all very proud of what we have achieved, not least the outstanding funding amount of £16,000 to cover the cost of training. While this amount can be drawn down by Apprenticeship Levy payers, the Government will pay 95% of this for SMEs.”


EMR was involved in the development of apprenticeships for the metals sector

Metal recycler EMR added that is has been “instrumental” in the development of apprenticeships programmes for the sector, including MRTM and the Metal Recycling General Operative (MRGO).

It said that these apprenticeships will help the company tackle some of the challenges facing the industry such as the transition to end-of-life vehicles.

Laura Kedward, leader and development business partner at EMR and chair of the North West apprenticeship ambassador network commented: “Green apprenticeships are about identifying those apprenticeships which are contributing to our sustainable practices and moving towards the green economy.

“The next generation of new starters at EMR want to know more about our purpose, our values and what we are doing to protect the environment – it’s a really important point on their agenda. By investing in green apprenticeships, EMR is helping the next generation enter a career that will help them contribute green solutions to the world’s biggest challenges.”


In the plastics sector, the Worshipful Company of Horners (Horners) and British Plastics Federation (BPF) has announced the Polymer Apprentice of the Year Award for 2020.

The BPF works closely with Horners to “promote the benefits” of working for the plastics industry to the next generation.

Coinciding with national apprenticeship week, the award was handed to Emily Harris of PLASgran,  who is completing a Mechatronics Maintenance Engineering Apprenticeship BTEC Level 3. Ms Harris is the first female apprentice to win the award and is said to have “excelled” at the apprenticeship.


Nationally, within and outside the waste and recycling sector, “Build the Future” was the theme for National Apprenticeship Week 2021.

“Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to learn while you earn, opening up new and exciting career paths that can transform lives.” – Gillian Keegan,  Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills 

The government said that as a result of the pandemic and many individuals relying on technology and virtual meetings more than ever, National Apprenticeship Week 2021 would be different.

Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, Gillian Keegan said: “Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to learn while you earn, opening up new and exciting career paths that can transform lives. It’s been a tough year for everyone, but we want the theme for National Apprenticeship Week 2021 to be a springboard to look ahead to how apprenticeships can futureproof workforces and boost careers.”

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