We are very glad to welcome our new Candidate Organisation from the UK: the National Society of Apprentices (NSoA)!
NSoA was founded in 2014 and they are the voice of apprentices all over the UK, operating in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The cooperation between OBESSU and NSoA started in spring 2016, in the framework of the European Youth Event (EYE). Since then, OBESSU has worked with them successfully. In particular, NSoA is one of the members of the newly established European Apprentices Network (EAN) and NSoA representatives recently took part in the Summer School, in Slovenia.
All these events strengthened the relations and today we are happy to have them on board!
We asked NSoA to answer a few questions to introduce their organisation to the platform.
Tell us a bit about NSoA.
NSoA is the noisy little sister of NUS UK (National Union of Students). Students at colleges and universities have had representation for years. We believe it is now time for apprentices! We learn in different places and in different workplaces (as during our apprenticeships we spend a big part of our education time in practical training) so we have to do our policy and democracy a bit different too. For a start we call it Ideas and People. NSoA is fed up of everyone talking about apprenticeships without ever talking to apprentices. So we got together, decided what we thought a great apprenticeship looked like and have been talking about that ever since.
What are the main topics NSoA is focusing on?
- Cost of Living
Our general principle would be that apprentices should be treated as well as other learners. NSoA is working to reduce the cost of living for apprentices focussing on the following:
- Council Tax
- Travel costs
- Healthcare costs
- Childcare costs
- Equipment costs
- Cheaper Trade Union membership
- Access to Bank Accounts
- Apprenticeship Pay
We would like to see the time spent on the Apprentice Minimum Wage (just £3.50 an hour!) reduced from a maximum of 12 months to a maximum of 6 months. After which apprentices should be paid the appropriate minimum wage. We are planning to do more research into apprenticeship pay.
- Apprenticeship Triangle
Apprenticeships have three main actors: employers, training providers and of course apprentices themselves. The relationships between all three need to work and there needs to be an understanding of the expectations and obligations to each other. In order to do so, we restate the NSoA Charter on excellent apprenticeships. We will work with partners to develop a kite mark for excellent apprenticeships.
- Sexism and Discrimination
This year we set up the NSoA Women in Apprenticeships working group.
What is the motivation behind your interest to join OBESSU?
Membership of OBESSU supports the values of NSoA. We both believe in Democracy, Equality, Inclusivity and Collectivism.
We are really annoyed that Brexit is happening, it has given us a bit of a shock and we need to think about how we make sure apprentices in the UK are able to cooperate and collaborate across Europe. Like Ivason Macadam said founding NUS UK “If students are co-operating today surely there is hope for tomorrow”.
Anything you look forward to or expect to about the upcoming join initiatives with OBESSU?
We expect to contribute and through doing so benefit from membership of OBESSU, that is how and why collectivism works.
We hope to collaborate on research and policy work both at a European level and also with other Vocational Educational and Training - VET focussed members of OBESSU. We think our membership engagement work is really good and we would like to share that with other organisations.
Hannah and Sarah are really looking forward to meeting other members at the upcoming General Assembly in August. We have been thinking about how democracy works over the last couple of years and it will be really interesting to see how the OBESSU GA works.
As an apprentice organisation we are obviously really excited about the European Apprentice Network (EAN). Working with OBESSU to create a body to help apprentices collaborate across Europe is pretty cool!
If you want to learn more about NSoA, please visit their webpage.