For many years vocational education has been stigmatised as only suitable for the 'less bright', and for those that needed to prepare for a specific trade. This is because vocational education directly develops expertise in techniques related to technology, skill and scientific technique to span all aspects of the trade
Having weekly meetings in which I had to present my work and ideas for moving forwards has greatly developed my confidence in giving presentations and developing my ideas in the work place. This practice has helped me significantly at conferences and other scientific events.
Savvy businesses are beginning to understand that well structured apprenticeships don't just help young people to get on the career ladder - they actually offer an immediate financial return on the business' investment
The current shortage of trained engineers creates a challenge for the future of UK engineering, with uncertainty for businesses that need engineering talent to deliver on new projects and grow profits. I urge the politicians not to forget about the 'march of the makers' as they run for the ballots.
The idea that science is better suited to males is not only unfair and outdated, but could potentially damage the future of our energy supply. We need the skills of both male and females to be able to make the breakthroughs necessary to deliver affordable energy sustainably, meaning a diverse workforce is key.
It is a sad indictment of a society that has created a situation which means our young cannot afford to live in the city that they were born in. As someone who had to leave their own country to get work, I am loathe to see my own children forced to live far away.
Employers must be aware of the variety of skills and talent that is available to them. If the gap between promoting apprenticeships in schools and raising awareness among employers is bridged, the number of new apprenticeships could increase significantly.
These are complex problems that won't be fixed overnight but they can be addressed; just as long as we take gender into account. To do otherwise means that any attempts will continue to fail, and to fail young women.
There's nothing wrong with the concept of gaining practical skills alongside academic study, but that's what 'sandwich year' university programmes already offer. Is it truly an apprenticeship, then, or is it simply re-packaged?
The Chancellor had a good tale to tell about falling unemployment, falling welfare bills, growth in output and living standards. He talked repeatedly about how the government of which he is a member is "fixing the roof as the sun begins to shine." The problem is, if we're not able to train people to do the job, he may find himself having to fix his own roof.
In our roles as Ambassadors we've been fortunate enough to meet with some of the young people who have been supported by The Prince's Trust and these visits have only confirmed to me the importance of inspiring the next generation. Although the economic climate is slowly recovering, too many young people are being hit by the aftermath. Those who are long-term unemployed are the furthest from the jobs market and are being exposed to low self-esteem and rejection. The stress and anxiety will be too much for some to cope with so it has never been more important to work together to give the younger generation the opportunities they deserve.
One of the main areas that I think continually needs focus is how best to attract more young women into the nuclear industry. There remains a fundamental problem with apprentices, particularly in engineering, that it's all greasy overalls and spanners.
After leaving school at 16, with no notable grades, I fell into a career as an electrician. I spent over a decade working on the tools, but I always knew my heart was not in it and I dreamed of a career as a journalist...
Why should a skilled engineer come to work for us to teach when we can't pay them anything like what they would earn working in industry? Would you do it?
It's genuinely exciting to see that there are now entry routes for people from the widest possible range of educational backgrounds, all of them getting the chance to climb a career ladder that can take them right to the top.
I'm so much happier now, I'm like a different person. I am so excited about my life and what I could do, I feel like I can take on the world! I'm working towards becoming a mental health nurse. Having climbed out of my dark hole, I want to help others do the same.