SWAAN is the Apprenticeship Ambassador Network (AAN) in the South-West, one of nine regional networks funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).
We are a dynamic group of Employer Ambassadors from across the region who champion apprenticeships and our apprentices, proactively supported by strategic Partner and Apprentice Ambassadors.
Together, our aim is to inspire and inform others about the benefits of choosing apprenticeships as a route to create business and individual success.
We look after our Ambassadors in a number of ways –
e-News Bulletin – We send out a weekly email to help keep Ambassadors informed about the latest apprenticeship news, local webinars, and relevant updates from organisations such as the ESFA, Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education and the Social Mobility Commission. Where appropriate we also share requests for insights on specific topics and surveys.
Ambassador Meetings – We arrange quarterly meetings led by the Regional Chair of the Network and Regional Chair of the Apprentice Ambassadors. These are usually held online with breakout groups for region-wide, multi-sector virtual networking opportunities.
Regional Conference – Once a year, we get together in person for workshops, to celebrate achievements and network in person.
Ambassador Support – We provide ongoing opportunities for Ambassadors to support each other including: a LinkedIn Chatroom, managed introductions, and a general call via the e-News Bulletin for others to share experiences and expertise. Examples of Peer-to-Peer support have included – recruiting more females into male-dominated industries, developing a high-quality onboarding experience, creating a degree apprenticeship programme and supporting Ambassadors seeking to create and fill new vacancies.
National Conference – Once a year, we meet with the eight other Apprenticeships Ambassador Networks to share best practice, hear from prominent speakers, and network on a larger scale.
Advocacy to others
We advocate apprenticeships to non-engaged employers –
SME Surgeries – We support local support services and Training Provider Networks to help SMEs engage with apprenticeships. Read more here.
Coffee Break Dial-Ins – We host one-hour webinars with quality speakers who share information, case studies, insights and best practice tips on a variety of apprenticeship topics with time allowed for Q&A. Themes have included – Recruiting apprentices with Special Educational Needs, Degree Apprenticeships, Popular Apprenticeships for SMEs, Digital Apprenticeships, and Manufacturing Apprenticeships.
Social Media – We promote apprenticeships and share information and best practice with employers via Twitter (@SWAAN_Coord) and via LinkedIn (@SWAAN). And our Ambassadors also promote apprenticeships and celebrate the achievements of their apprentices via their own channels.
SWAAN Logo – Our Ambassadors are entitled to add the SWAAN logo to their email signature and website to visibly show their membership of the network and commitment to apprenticeships as a whole.
SWAAN Portal – Each of our Employer and Partner Ambassadors has the opportunity to add a quote in support of apprenticeships here on the regional portal. Read more from the Employer Ambassadors and Partner Ambassadors.
We also advocate apprenticeships as a career path for individuals –
Schools engagement – Our Apprentice Ambassadors can attend in person or dial-in remotely to careers fairs, classroom workshops, and assemblies to bring experience of the workplace and tell their story to inspire and inform young people. With so many Ambassadors to choose from, schools can access a wide variety of apprentices on different Standards, at different levels and with a range of employers. Read more here.
Apprenticeships Fairs – Our Apprentice Ambassadors can attend in person or dial-in remotely to support college events across the region. With so many Ambassadors to choose from, colleges can access a wide variety of apprentices on different Standards, at different levels and with a range of employers. Read more here.
Social Media – Our Apprentice Ambassadors inspire and inform young people, schools, colleges, parents and carers right across the region via Twitter (@SouthWestYAAN), Facebook (@SouthWestYAAN) and Instagram (@SouthWestYAAN).
Careers Changer events – We have access to hundreds of apprentices via our Employer Ambassadors, each with their own case study and story to tell. We welcome opportunities for these apprentices to work with career changers and older candidates, including via Job Centre events and Bootcamps. For details, please Contact Us.
How it works
As SWAAN is a government-funded initiative, there is no charge to be a member, but to be eligible, Ambassadors need to be proactive in their apprenticeship activities, visibly supporting apprentices and championing apprenticeships:
- Employer Ambassadors – demonstrate a visibly strong commitment to their apprentices and to apprenticeships as a whole.
- Partner Ambassadors – represent either an industry sector, or geographical employment and skills team, where apprenticeships feature strongly.
- Apprentice Ambassadors – share their apprenticeship story at events and on social media to help inspire others to become apprentices.
SWAAN Ambassadors get involved on a voluntary basis and champion apprenticeships through marketing, publicity, supporting and mentoring others, celebrating successes, and taking part in events.
We work closely with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and the wider Apprenticeships Ambassador Network (AAN), and engage regularly with key stakeholders such as the Federation of Small Businesses, British Chambers of Commerce, The All Party Parliamentary Group on Apprenticeships, Colleges, independent Training Providers, and Universities.
SWAAN Ambassadors are located right across the South-West, stretching from Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to Cheltenham and Gloucester in the north and to Swindon and Salisbury in the east.
SWAAN in Numbers
Apply to join!
We are always keen to welcome new Ambassadors!
If you believe you would be eligible to join the network as an Employer, Partner or Apprentice Ambassador, we would love to hear from you!
Our Ambassadors typically –
- Proactively champion apprenticeships – with colleagues, with their supply chains and clients, and across their own networks.
- Act as a role model to promote apprenticeships — via case studies, PR campaigns (e.g., National Apprenticeship Week), and “Look at me now” success stories.
- Share experiences, knowledge and skills – talking positively and honestly about the impact an apprentice has made within their organisation.
- Publicly endorse the benefit of apprenticeships – at job fairs, skills shows, via social media and events, recruiting new apprentices and upskilling staff.
We also ask our Ambassadors to –
- Respond to requests for insights and case studies – we make it as simple as possible.
- Engage with SWAAN objectives and activities – e.g., supporting another Ambassador, attending, presenting at, or promoting events.
- Engage with national apprenticeship initiatives – e.g., National Apprenticeship Week and The National Apprenticeship Awards.
Please read the Principles of being an Ambassador and the Ambassador Code of Conduct – here.
Your ability to champion apprenticeships will be critical to the continued success and growth of the network. And your work will make a huge contribution to the reputation of apprenticeships.
To find out more and to apply to join, please Contact Us.