Meeting Siena

My Name is Siena and I’m in my second year of a business management apprenticeship studying at Ulster University. I’m a part of the committee for Ulster Universities Apprenticeship Society and as part of this we were invite to attend the NSOA Leadership Team Weekend in Belfast in October.


Before going to weekend I was not really sure about what to expect but I was excited to learn more about the apprenticeship committee in the UK. Very soon into the weekend I learnt that there was a lot to learn about in terms of how different apprenticeship operate and the varying rights apprentices have across the UK.

I’m fortunate to come from an apprenticeship in which day release is built into the programme as well as having a salary which sits above the apprentice minimum wage, which to be totally honest I wasn’t aware of that it was any different than the standard minimum wage. It was really interesting to hear the stories of the leadership team who are at different stages our their apprenticeships and come a diverse group of backgrounds. As the team discussed potential areas for the NSOA manifesto it opened my eyes to a variety of issues and which I’ve started to develop a strong passion about such as making apprenticeship a realistic and accessible option for people of all ages and backgrounds as well as reduce the gender inequality that currently exists.

I enjoyed getting the opportunity to speak to Robbie Bulter, a local MLA and ask his opinions of apprenticeships and highlight how important they are to the Northern Ireland economy and beyond. The sessions held throughout the weekend such as the one led by Chloe Ferguson, the President of NUSUSI, were really useful. I really enjoyed learning more about the importance of activism, the student movement and the important of student unions and using your voice.

The existing NSOA members were so welcoming and passionate and I and the rest of the apprenticeship society who attended where so greatful for this and the opportunity at the end of the weekend to become members of the Leadership Team ourselves and start to campaign for better apprenticeships for all.

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