Tuesday 04 March 2014
To mark National Apprentice Week, Manchester City and Spain winger Jesus Navas spent an afternoon with a construction trainee planting trees at the development of the club's new training ground in east Manchester.
National Apprentice Week, which runs from 3-7 March, is a scheme from the National Apprenticeship Service that aims to raise the profile of apprenticeships amongst employers, individuals, teachers, parents and the media.
"It's been exciting to get involved today and see some of the great work that's been done around the site"
It encourages anyone interested in an apprenticeship to get involved and Manchester City showed their support for the Week by sending one of their star players to work with a construction apprentice on the development of their new training ground.
Michael Owen, 21, from Droylsden, Manchester, is a general construction apprentice with BAM Construction who is working on City's new youth development and first-team training facility, the City Football Academy, which is due to open this year.
Owen was joined by Navas on the plot, with the winger planting a blue Cedar tree at what will become the entrance of the City Football Academy as part of a new 2km wildlife corridor which will provide habitat and shelter for wildlife in the area.
Navas spoke highly of apprentices and trainees and the impact they have at City and the valuable experience they receive during the schemes. He told mcfc.co.uk: "It's been exciting to get involved today and see some of the great work that's been done around the site."
Owen was also full of praise for the help he has received.
“My apprenticeship with BAM at the City Football Academy has been instrumental in building qualities such as my approach to problem solving, remaining calm under pressure and prioritising tasks," he said. "It’s also helped me to work independently and work within a team; it’s an endless list of skills that you cannot learn from any other process."
City launched its own apprenticeship programme in 2010 and has since undertaken six apprentices. One person to have benefitted from the scheme is Conrad Prendergast, 22, from Denton, Manchester. He was a Community Apprentice at City and is now an established member of the City in the Community (CITC) programme, the football club's partner Foundation.
"The apprenticeship was absolutely brilliant for me," he told mcfc.co.uk. "It enabled me to get hands-on experience while learning about all aspects of the Foundation. I loved it."
Prendergast, who has progressed into the CITC family as the Enterprise Co-ordinator, has since been replaced by Joshua Black, 19, from Stockport. Black will work across the Health and Activity and Football and Multi-Sport programmes as "Community Apprentice" and hopes to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor and beome a co-ordinator.
City are not the only club in the Barclays Premier League to offer help to local youngsters looking for work through apprenticeships. At Newcastle United, former academy player Joe Deverdics, 18, is serving a full-time apprenticeship as a community coach.
After leaving school at 16, Deverdics was not in training, education or work, until he got enrolled in a Prince's Trust Get Started in Football course delivered by the club's Foundation. From there he joined the Foundation's Kicks project, where he then begena to volunteer for sessions. Since then he enrolled at TyneMet College and was rewarded for his endeavours by an apprenticeship.
"I'm really proud to be the first apprentice to join Newcastle United Foundation and excited to have this great opportunity to work alongside some of the best coaches in the region," Deverdics said.
For more information on City in the Community’s Skills and Enterprise programmes, check out mcfc.co.uk/community.