Jose Aguiar, apprenticeship training in action
The Honda Challenge - apprenticeship training in action
Jose Aguiar teaches citizenship to apprentices as part of the Honda Challenge, which he helped set up three years ago.
apprentices attend the Honda Institute in Slough for 20 weeks of their
two or three-year apprenticeship programme. The apprentices, who are
mainly aged between 16 and 21 and come from all over the country, are
given employed status by authorised Honda dealerships and are released
for up to 20 weeks – one week every four or five weeks – to the Honda
Institute. They work in stable groups of a maximum of 12 and spend their
weeks at the Institute living in a local hotel.
Alongside their technical learning, the apprentices follow a parallel curriculum, lasting up to 123 hours over their apprenticeship. This is called the ‘Honda Challenge’, a personal development programme that incorporates citizenship and other topics such as equality and diversity; the history and philosophy of Honda; Honda and environment; responsible road use; first aid; and customer care. This work must be completed in order for the apprentice to receive their final certificate, and it is supported through Honda’s own certification and incentives scheme.
The aim of the parallel curriculum is to create employees who are active and responsible citizens, and who understand Honda’s corporate responsibility and its commitment to safety, the environment and the company’s place in the community, and to diversity.
The training sessions tend to last three hours and are delivered in meeting rooms at the hotel in the evening, two, three or even four evenings a week. The apprentices don’t seem to mind giving their time up to do this, and their feedback is that they find the programme interesting and it allows them to think around issues. We encourage them to think about the importance of working together positively in the workplace to make or prevent change; consider how the knowledge and skills needed to do this relate to the wider community; think about their work and broader issues; and to be an active voice in Honda.
“Citizenship is about a group of people in an organisation or community who want to change things by getting together.”
16-year-old Honda apprentice
Most apprentices have not thought about diversity and equality issues before to any degree. Teaching focused on equality has often had a very positive effect on their lives, especially when they go home. This course not only impacts on their work life but also more widely in their social and family interactions.
The feedback has been great in general, not just from the apprentices but also from the car dealerships they return to and from parents at graduation ceremonies. It’s so rewarding to get this feedback, and when learners come back and tell me that they have applied the knowledge they gained through the programme.
“I think citizenship is about how a person can have the right to have an opinion and use that opinion to change things. It’s valuable because it teaches us how to treat people at work and in the community to make a better place.”
17-year-old Honda apprentice
I also work in offender learning, which has helped me develop my skills in dealing with young people. Most of these young people in prison had have a poor experience in mainstream education and just being in a classroom is quite a hostile situation for them. This fact clearly points to the need for an active learning strategy; one that brings citizenship alive and engages the students. Young offenders are not motivated by a lecture-type session; the classes have to be creative, consider the students’ point of view, and engage them with a more practical, participatory approach.
My recent continuing professional development (CPD) on citizenship has included working with apprentices and young offenders, as part of the post-16 support programme run by the Learning and Skills Network (LSN) in partnership with the University of Warwick. These have been really useful and added to my teaching practice. I have also developed my use of social media, including starting Facebook groups and using YouTube in my teaching.
My motivation in the teaching and learning process lies in how I believe teaching needs to be addressed: through relationships. Learners need a human relationship to create the right learning environment. Students need help to realise their own potential and build a sense of purpose, self-belief and self-worth, about themselves and to contribute in the facilitation process, of bringing about these changes. In my planning and teaching, I adopt a humanistic approach, a concept that Carl Rogers, with his focus on relationships, espoused in his work.
“The facilitation of significant learning rests upon certain attitudinal qualities that exist in the personal relationship between the facilitator and the learner.”
Rogers, Carl, 1969. Freedom to Learn: A View of What Education Might Become. (1st ed.) p106. Columbus, Ohio: Charles Merill.