“Apprenticeships grow up” – Pablo Lloyd

Pablo Lloyd is the CEO and co-founder of Activate Apprenticeships and Activate Business School. In his fourth opinion piece, Pablo talks about the preconceptions of apprenticeships.


They are like A-levels, for people who find A-levels too hard.”

This is what I recently heard a parent say about apprenticeship. Let’s face it, many people still hold this prejudice. Even well-intentioned leaders talk uninspiringly about reaching ‘parity of esteem’ with academic qualifications.

It’s time for apprenticeships to grow up. Not to compare themselves with their academic sibling, but to have their own ambition.

Many years ago I did a degree and followed it with something which would now be called an apprenticeship; three years of work and study leading to a professional qualification. Looking back, the difference is very clear – the degree taught me how to study, the apprenticeship taught me how to work. They each have their value, but they should not be measured on the same scale.

Any prejudices about apprenticeships stem from our narrow view of intelligence.

IQ scores and exam grades are still common currencies. Daniel Goleman popularised emotional intelligence 20 years ago, but I have yet to see a CV or LinkedIn profile with an EQ score alongside academic qualifications. That is why recruitment processes are less focused on exam grades. They are more focused on evidence of positive behaviours, teamwork and practical problem-solving.

Apprenticeships not only develop a specialist skill set, but also the behaviours required by employers.

Let’s appreciate them for what they are, a mark of practical intelligence and applied craft.

Take a look at Pablo’s previous thought pieces here.

The next industrial revolution is in young people’s imaginations

Pablo Lloyd is the CEO and co-founder of Activate Apprenticeships and Activate Business School. In his third opinion piece, Pablo talks about preparing for industry 5.0.

I sent my first email over the web 21 years ago when desktop computing had become a common industrial tool. That was the early days of the digital revolution, Industry 3.0.

Artificial Intelligence brings us the next revolution, Industry 4.0.

It is well underway – from advanced manufacturing to conversations with Alexa, Einstein, and other AI entities in our homes and boardrooms.

Previous industrial revolutions, based on steam, electricity and fossil fuels in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, each took about 100 years to transform how we live and work. But the cycle is getting shorter – Industry 3.0 took less than 30 years.

So as educators and responsible employers, how should we prepare young people for the next 50 years of work?

How do we prepare them for Industry 5.0 when we don’t know what it will be?

When I ask our business clients what they look for in new recruits, they tell me they are becoming less interested in qualifications and more interested in creativity and the ability to learn. Young people are more specific, they talk about becoming algae engineers, age reversing scientists and music therapists.

Our education system is starting to change. An example is Activate Learning’s colleges, schools and training providers now designing ‘attributes’ into our curriculum. Attributes like confidence, enterprise, resilience, and creativity are core learning, not just by-products of a rounded education.

The next industrial revolution is in young people’s imaginations. Our job is to nurture behaviours which will create it and adapt to it.

What part are you playing in Industry 5.0?


Take a look at Pablo’s previous opinion piece “Learning is good for your ‘elf” here.

‘Learning is good for your ‘elf’ – Pablo Lloyd

elfPablo Lloyd is the CEO and co-founder of Activate Apprenticeships and Activate Business School. In his second opinion piece, Pablo here talks about his thoughts on giving learning as a gift.

My mother was 79 years old when she completed her first degree in English Literature at Birkbeck, University of London. She loved learning and was inspired to go on and teach GCSE students well into her 80s.

Advances in neuroscience show us that the brain develops physically throughout our lives. Smart as they were, the ancient Greeks were wrong about the brain. Aristotle likened it to a wax tablet which starts warm and pliable as a baby, becoming cold and inflexible as an adult. In fact, by using and challenging the brain it warms up and gets better at learning.

If you are looking for an unusual Christmas present or want to treat yourself, what about a learning gift?

Here are my ten favourites:

  1. Learn about Artificial Intelligence at www.ted.com/playlists/310/talks_on_artificial_intelligen
  2. Try spoon carving at www.barnthespoon.com or annacasserley.co.uk/about
  3. Find out about the latest scientific discoveries by subscribing to www.newscientist.com
  4. Embrace your creativity and use Oblique Strategies cards from www.enoshop.co.uk
  5. Give mindfulness a go with the app from www.headspace.com
  6. Enjoy art by joining a group of galleries www.tate.org.uk
  7. Learn welding at www.obby.co.uk
  8. Learn beekeeping and more at www.idler.co.uk
  9. Learn about organisational success and read Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed
  10. Learn calligraphy www.thepostmansknock.com/beginners-guide-modern-calligraphy/

Of course, there are limits. My mother succumbed to dementia in her late 90s, but she lived to be 100 and inspired three generations to pursue their curiosity and creativity.

Who will you inspire this month?

Take a look at Pablo’s previous opinion piece “The productivity problem is in the boardroomhere.

‘The productivity problem is in the boardroom’ – Pablo Lloyd

Pablo Lloyd is the CEO and co-founder of Activate Apprenticeships and Activate Business School. He has led innovation in training and education for nearly 20 years. He is a Trustee of WorldSkills UK and an alumnus of London Business School. Pablo here talks about his thoughts on how to solve the problem of the UK’s productivity.

UK productivity has been an economic problem for over 20 years, stubbornly behind G7 competitors.

That’s hard to believe when I visit the factory floor of some of our advanced manufacturing clients like BMW and Lander Automotive. Here it’s second nature to avoid waste, increase outputs and train teams in business improvement.

We can learn a lot from these globally competitive businesses.

A client in a service industry recently asked us to help them create a culture of excellence asking ‘how do we make sure our teams focus on the right things?’. We soon worked out the answer; to change behaviours in the boardroom, by helping leaders become more influential with each other and with their teams.

We know that improving the knowledge, skills, and behaviours of leaders has a multiplier effect on performance.

While the UK has historically under-invested in leadership development, that has started changing since May 2017. The government pays for 90-100% of the cost of structured training in an approved apprenticeship programme. ‘Apprentices’ can include experienced managers developing their skills, up to and including MBA programmes. This is good news for the productivity of the UK.

Activate Business School specialises in practical leadership and management development and is approved to deliver apprenticeship programmes. Contact us on 01865 551 015 to find out more.

Activate Apprenticeships lead colleges’ bid to deliver UK-wide apprenticeships for Amey

The Collab Group of colleges has been selected by Amey, an internationally recognised supplier of infrastructure and public support services, to manage its apprenticeship provision across the UK. Collab Group, a network of 36 of the largest college providers across the UK, will be the exclusive provider of apprenticeship training, with Oxford based Collab Group member Activate Apprenticeships as the lead provider.

Amey’s apprenticeships will be delivered through local colleges, working across multiple service areas, including highways, engineering, as well as providing team leader and management training for senior staff. Activate Apprenticeship and the Collab Group colleges will work with Amey to map existing training courses to the new apprenticeship standards; these courses will be fully accredited, and eventually rolled out to approximately 1,000 Amey managers.

In one of the first agreements of its type since the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, Activate Apprenticeship’s partnership model, as Collab Group’s leader provider, will provide Amey with consistently high quality apprenticeship provision for its diverse and distributed workforce, while allowing for flexibility at local level.

Ian Pretty – Collab Group’s CEO said: ‘We are continuing to challenge the traditional approach of apprenticeship delivery by offering Amey and others access to our unique, national managed service model. The recent introduction of the apprenticeship levy presents a great opportunity for the industry to continue to invest in the creation and development of a sustainable and highly skilled workforce. Collab Group colleges are at the forefront of providing highly specialised training to equip the future workforce with the skills to drive economic productivity and growth. Our colleges are deeply embedded in their local communities, and our national delivery network across the UK makes us uniquely placed to offer customised and flexible provision to a range of clients within the engineering industry and beyond. We greatly look forward to working with Amey to invest in their talent and harness the collective expertise of our network of forward thinking and dynamic colleges.”

Ian Deninson Amey’s Group HR and Communication’s Director comments on the appointment: “We strongly believe in investing in our apprentices and employees, allowing them to gain the skills and confidence that will serve them through a long career with us.

“With a diverse range of apprenticeships available and with our UK geographical spread, we believe that working in partnership with Collab Group, with their locally based colleges will support our apprentices ensuring they have access to tailored and professional training that’s local to them

Pablo Lloyd, CEO Activate Apprenticeships, said: “This is a true partnership with Amey Plc and other Collab Group members. We are delighted to be chosen as lead provider, and will bring our experience of complex multi-site delivery to make sure Amey apprentices and business units receive a service which is both flexible and consistently high quality.”

Helping businesses get ready for the apprenticeship levy

Today (12 January), Activate Apprenticeships held the first of its ‘Get ready for the apprenticeship levy’ breakfast seminar events – as organisations learned more about what opportunities the introduction of the apprenticeship levy will bring.

Representatives from businesses across the Thames Valley attended the much-anticipated event, where members of the Activate Apprenticeships team offered advice on how companies – who will be applicable to the levy, when it is introduced in April this year – can make the most of it and get ahead of competitors when reaching new talent.

The levy will raise an anticipated £3 billion a year through a payroll tax on larger businesses, almost doubling the level of government funding currently available to invest in apprenticeship programmes.

The event – held at Reading College – will be the first of a host of ‘Get ready for the apprenticeship levy’ events taking place across the Thames Valley in the coming months, with the next set to take place in Oxford on 16 February.

Mark Eighteen – Commercial Director of Activate Apprenticeships – said: “As an organisation, we have successfully provided training and apprenticeships for over 50 years and support over 1,000 businesses every year.

“This makes us well-placed to offer sound advice, across a variety of sectors, to businesses in understanding the levy, but – probably more importantly – how they can actually benefit from its introduction.

“For young people – apprenticeships are a great way to earn whilst they learn and to gain valuable skills and knowledge in the workplace. What this means for businesses is there is a real opportunity to invest in the future, by developing the talent needed to stay ahead.”

For more information on future ‘Get ready for the apprenticeship levy’ events, go to: www.activateapprenticeships.co.uk/be-ready-for-the-levy.


For more information – contact Rob Panting, Group Marketing Business Partner, via: rob.panting@activatelearning.ac.uk.

New year heralds big change for leading apprenticeship provider

The leading apprenticeship provider for the Thames Valley has announced it will operate under two new brands, in what is set to be a ‘game-changing’ year for apprenticeships across the UK.

Oxford-based Activate Enterprise will – as of today (4 January) – operate as Activate Apprenticeships. Meanwhile, its leadership, management and professional development services will be now known as Activate Business School.

Its 50-year history as the region’s largest training provider – with exclusive access to Activate Learning’s colleges’ facilities and 16,000 students – remains unchanged.

However – the team and services have transformed over the last two years now providing training across the UK and – through Activate Business School – tailored leadership, management and professional development as well as a broad range of apprenticeship training.

Activate Apprenticeships and Activate Business School work with over 2,000 businesses in the UK, across a range of sectors.

The change has been triggered by the introduction of the apprenticeship levy and related government reforms to apprenticeship funding and standards.

The levy will raise £3 billion a year through a payroll tax on larger businesses and this will almost double the level of government funding currently available to invest in apprenticeship programmes.

Pablo Lloyd – chief executive of Activate Apprenticeships and Activate Business School – said: “Our move to Activate Apprenticeships and Activate Business School responds directly to feedback from our clients and emerging changes in apprenticeships.

“For young people – apprenticeships are great way to earn whilst they learn without any unwanted debt and, there has never be a better time to start an apprenticeship.

“The apprenticeship changes present a real opportunity for businesses to invest in their current and future talent. Investing in apprenticeships does in fact mean investing in skilled and talented young people, as well as investing in current employees to keep ahead of competitors.

“This year will undoubtedly be a game-changing year for apprenticeships in the UK. It’s our intention to play a major part in it by helping businesses and apprentices take full advantage of the new system.

“In January and February we will be running breakfast seminars in Oxford and Reading to help businesses get to grips with the changes.”

Heading into 2017 – Activate Apprenticeships currently offer a range of apprenticeships across multiple sectors, such as qualifications in business services, classic car restoration, health and social care, IT and digital marketing, and leadership and management.


For more information – please contact Activate Learning Group Marketing Business Partner, Rob Panting via: rob.panting@activatelearning.ac.uk or call: 01865 551930 or 07919 352924. Alternatively – please contact Activate Learning Group Branding and Communications Manager, Jon Goode via: jonathan.goode@activatelearning.ac.uk or call: 01865 551 885 or 07799 410 440.

National award wins for classic vehicle apprentices

Two Bicester-based apprentices were presented with awards at the UK’s biggest classic car show.

Matt Gamble and Joe Mellor, who both study at Banbury and Bicester College, were named winners at the Classic Vehicle Motor Show awards, held at Birmingham’s NEC.

Matt was named best apprentice and presented with a cheque by the Morris Minor Owners Club, while Joe received a toolbox set worth £1,700 in recognition of a specialist tool he made for repairing Alvis cars. The prizes were two of only three awarded at the event.

Both Matt and Joe are studying the apprenticeship in classic vehicle restoration at Banbury and Bicester College. The teaching takes place at a specialist workshop at Bicester Heritage with the apprenticeship delivered by Activate Enterprise.

Teacher Dhugal Hunt said: “To win two of the three awards up for grabs at the show is a great accolade for the classic vehicle restoration apprenticeship, which is developing the skills needed for the future of this growing industry. Matt and Joe should be very proud of their achievements.

“Apprentices and students from our full-time programme enjoyed the opportunity to attend the Classic Motor Show, where more than 2,500 classic cars and motorcycles were on display. To be able to witness Matt and Joe receive their awards was an added bonus.”

The classic vehicle restoration apprenticeship was developed following research by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs, which showed a growing skills gap in the classic vehicle industry. It is estimated that the UK needs more than 1,000 new apprentices to help replace an ageing workforce.

Apprenticeship provider champions top mentors on national awareness day

The largest provider of apprenticeships in the Thames Valley has today (27 October) given their nod of approval to a national awareness day, celebrating the importance of mentors.

Activate Enterprise – part of the Activate Learning group – is backing National Mentoring Day, an event launched to celebrate mentoring, raising awareness of its benefits.

The apprenticeship provider – who fill over 1,000 vacancies across the region each year – hope that by celebrating National Mentoring Day, more young people will be encouraged to consider signing-up to an apprenticeship and be mentored by a host of leading professionals.

Pablo Lloyd – Chief Executive of Activate Enterprise – said: “For young people either considering or currently completing apprenticeships, it is so important to have a great mentor; someone they can relate to, look up to and help navigate a demanding stage in their early working life.

“We talk about ‘growing people, growing business’ – developing employees in the right way develops a business at the same time. Mentoring is one of the catalysts that makes that happen.

“By celebrating National Mentoring Day, we hope that we can demonstrate – through apprenticeships – that young people can ‘get in’ and go far with some of the UK’s biggest and brightest companies. But also, businesses have an opportunity to mentor some great new talent too.”

This year’s National Mentoring Day bears real significance too, as it’s the last mentoring day prior to the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy.

The Levy – earmarked at 0.5% of a company’s payroll (which is in excess of £3 million per year) – is expected to raise £3 billion a year nationally to fund three million apprenticeships across the UK.

Pablo Lloyd added: “An apprenticeship is a way for people of all ages to earn while they learn in a real job, gaining real skills and knowledge. The Apprenticeship Levy presents businesses with a real opportunity to invest in future talent.

“It is also an opportunity to impart great knowledge and experience down to a new generation of workforce – therefore, there has never been a better time for businesses to start apprenticeship schemes and – in the process – become great mentors too.”

Read some of our apprentices’ stories, including the importance of great mentors.


For more information – and to arrange an interview/photo opportunity – please contact Rob Panting, Activate Learning’s Group Marketing Business Partner, via: 01865 551930, or email: rob.panting@activatelearning.ac.uk.

Staff celebrate success at away day

Colleagues from across the Activate Enterprise team gathered at Reading College last Friday (21 October) for its latest staff away day, celebrating success across the organisation.

The event saw staff – as well as business partners from Activate Learning – gather to look at how the soon-to-be introduced Apprenticeship Levy will create opportunities for Activate Enterprise and budding apprentices from across the Thames Valley.

In addition, the event was also a chance for the organisation to honour colleagues from across all areas of Activate Enterprise, with several staff being awarded a limited edition ‘Purple Pin’ – part of its peer-to-peer recognition scheme, acknowledging outstanding achievement.

Award winners at the latest event were assessor Jacqueline Cash, client manager and PA Stephanie Graham, administrator Ciera Kent and assessor Alan Vallis – each rewarded for valuable contributions across the organisation over the past three months.

For more information on work opportunities with Activate Enterprise, head to our ‘work for us‘ page.