The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) announced it will extend its support and representation to apprentices, coinciding with National Apprenticeships Week.
The move is set to usher in a new era of inclusivity. The 105-year-old organisation, traditionally focused on university students, is now opening its doors to apprentices with a promise of workplace representation and university-style socials.
Apprentices can now enrol either independently or through their training provider employer. Once they’ve signed up, they’ll be connected with their local university’s Jewish society (JSoc). This affiliation grants them full access to JSoc’s socials, talks, and networking events. While the network is open to all apprentices, certain social events, such as pub gatherings, may be limited to those aged 18 or over.
University-style socials open to apprentices
At the helm of this transformative initiative is Matty Fisher, digital engagement, apprenticeships, and access to work officer at the UJS. Speaking to the education publication FE Week, Fisher shared his motivation for the project, saying, “When I’ve been speaking to apprentices, they love doing an apprenticeship.
But the things they don’t have, which university students have, are the opportunities to socialise and meet people, join societies and stuff like that … apprentices now have the same access to the same things that university students have access to, which is really exciting.”
The UJS website now promises apprentices “a Jewish life on campus experience whilst working”.
In addition to a university-style social experience, those who join the apprenticeships network automatically become full members of UJS. Members have voting rights at conferences as well as access to advice and advocacy services.
Advocating for its members in the workplace
As the apprenticeships network grows, UJS hopes its members can address issues which specifically affect Jewish apprentices in education and the workplace. This might include requesting time off for Jewish festivals or providing guidance if training, exams, or assessments coincide with these periods.
Fisher commented, “We are representing apprentices on a national level. There are specific things that Jewish apprentices might need in the workplace, such as being able to leave early on a Friday for the Sabbath.”