4th DRIVES Workshop on apprenticeships and Covid-19

The second webinar on Apprenticeships was held on 3rd November with a focus on Apprenticeship programmes through the Covid-19 pandemic. The webinar started with Carol Maison from BMW UK. Like many employers, at the start of the pandemic, their Apprentices were sent home and had to continue their studies online. Carol was very positive that their main training providers responded positively and quickly with good levels of support. Young apprentices just out of school particularly adapted quickly to the virtual classes and lessons.  While delayed in some cases, the assessments at the end of the Apprenticeships were also held virtually and this went “surprisingly well”. We next heard from Pratik Patel from Gestamp in Spain who talked to us about the changes he’d had to make when working from home; particularly about accessing the correct hardware and software for his role.  Pratik gave an example where a task that would take 2 hours in the office took double that time at home.  Francisco Alvarez from Gestamp then gave us another employers perspective. Francisco oversees Apprenticeship programmes in 10 countries and talked about the impact of lockdown at the start of the programme; about the need to bring back Apprentices from China, for example, who had only just started work there.  He highlighted the financial impact on them and the difficulties of maintaining motivation.  It was “quite a challenge”.  Patricia Barquero Garcia started her training full time at University but 3 years into her course decided to follow her passion and change direction to study for a degree in Mechanical Manufacturing on a dual study/work programme so was able to highlight the benefits of both academic and vocational study. We then heard from Mark Brown, a Toolmaker Apprentice at BMW UK.  Mark echoed many of the challenges that Pratik and Patricia faced and that while he’d been able to progress his Apprenticeship through the virtual lessons and classes, he’d found that the lack of physical interaction with colleagues due to staggered breaks, social distancing and the wearing of face-masks had diminished the experience and made connecting with colleagues and fellow Apprentices much harder to do. The overall experience from Apprentices and employers showed that, unsurprisingly, the shock of lockdown and operating virtual training was not as enjoyable as the experiences before lockdown. It wasn’t all doom and gloom though with the speakers identifying a range of good practise.  And this was the theme of the final session run by Mick Feloy who shared the plans for the creation of a Good Practise Resource that interested parties will be able to access. Mick shared some of the areas that are being researched and the specific case studies being drafted. The webinar participants also had an opportunity to share their experiences of good practises which will be explored with them in the weeks after the webinar.

The webinar is part of a set of webinars, organized under the European Vocational Skills Week umbrella, connected to the work under the ERASMUS+ Automotive Sector Skills Alliance - DRIVES project. You can access the recording of the presentation here and the presentation ppt at


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