Nick Blackledge gives an insight into life as an apprentice with Wigan Athletic
Wigan Athletic Football Club’s award-winning Community Trust continues to develop excellent apprentices through its successful apprenticeship programme.
Of the Community Trust’s last 10 apprentices, nine have gone on to do a degree with the Trust, seven are now in full or part-time employment with the Trust, two are coaching abroad and one is working for another professional football club.
Nick Blackledge, 20, is one of the apprentices who now works for the Trust on a part-time basis, and during his studies gained qualifications such as an NVQ Level 3 in P.E & School Sport, Level 3 Award in Employment Awareness and his FA Level 1 and 2 Coaching Badges.
He is now in his first year of a distance learning Foundation Degree in Community Football Coaching and Development at the University of South Wales, which is run in partnership with the EFL Trust.
To celebrate the 10th National Apprenticeship Week, an event that brings together employers and apprentices from across England to highlight the success of apprenticeships over the last decade, Nick discusses his time working for the Trust.
He said: “I really enjoyed my apprenticeship with Wigan Athletic Community Trust. When I started I wasn’t a confident person but as I progressed I gained an enormous amount of confidence and social skills, which have not only helped me in my career but also life as well.
“The projects I worked on allowed me to encourage football and sport in different communities, helped me to interact with young children, and gave me a real insight into how to adapt all sports to cater for everyone’s needs.
“I loved every minute of my time as an apprentice, but my favourite part was working with young children because when I was a child I would have loved to have had coaches from Wigan Athletic come into my school and helping me to progress. It gives them a special experience and it’s really rewarding when they ask us if we’re coming back next week.”
Nick paid testament to the Trust’s education department for supporting his progress during the apprenticeship.
“The education aspect of the apprenticeship is really important too, and I have nothing but good words to say about our lecturers. The sessions were brilliant and we were really given confidence to help us achieve our goals and develop our knowledge in the field.
“If I hadn’t have done the apprenticeship then I definitely wouldn’t have been in the position I am now. It’s enabled me to do so many things and to get a job out of it at the end is just the icing on the cake for me. It’s fantastic to see that the work I’ve put in has been worthwhile.
“Being based with the Latics has given me a range of experiences that I never would have had at a normal college – from getting my coaching badges to watching the Club play at Wembley to even coaching some of the first team players when they have been to visit us, it has been brilliant and I’d definitely recommend it to any young person.”
To apply or for more information about apprenticeships with Wigan Athletic Community Trust, please call Education Officer Adam Sherratt on 01942 318090 or email firstname.lastname@example.org