Wednesday 10 February, HRH The Earl of Wessex, a Trustee of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE), joined nine apprentices in a virtual call, to hear their experiences of doing DofE during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The call, during National Apprenticeship Week in England, was set up to shine a light on the amazing achievements of apprentices across the UK.
During these difficult times, young employees from a range of businesses have been doing their DofE activities as part of an apprenticeship, giving back to their communities, gaining skills and developing the resilience and confidence to manage the mental health and employment challenges that young people are facing.
The apprentices on the call, from UK Power Networks which delivers electricity to 8.3m homes and businesses across London, the East and South East, have been working hard to complete their DofE. Joshua said: “When you’ve finished, it feels like a great achievement to get through – it feels like you’ve accomplished something.”
During the call, The Earl thanked them for their commitment to their communities and their own development, at such a vital time. HRH said: “I’m delighted that the Award has proved of such value to the UK Power Networks apprenticeship programme.”
Alex Hay, Head of Partnerships at the DofE commented: “I’m in awe of the dedication these apprentices have shown to their DofE, when all our worlds turned upside down. What they’ve achieved for themselves and others is phenomenal. We know DofE can make a real difference to young people’s wellbeing and employment prospects, two important benefits as we work our way through the pandemic.”
The DofE charity has been working with businesses to offer DofE to their young staff for 15 years. Companies, including DFS and Great Western Railway have found DofE speeds up young people’s development, improves their skills, and helps them foster the attitudes and attributes they want in their workplace.
UK Power Networks runs DofE as a core element of its apprenticeship programme. Charlie Aston, engineering trainee manager said: “Apprenticeships have a huge importance to the future success of our business, and we are always determined to make the opportunities we have open and available to all. The coronavirus pandemic has been a hugely challenging period for everyone, but, like their other colleagues at UK Power Networks, our apprentices have kept going and continued to help keep the power flowing safely for our customers.
“Through their DofE, our apprentices gain long-term transferable skills, which will help them in both their private and working lives. Developing their own resilience is key, especially with challenges we face during storm conditions and during this difficult time through COVID restrictions.”