NUS extra, the UK’s market leading student discount and lifestyle card, has introduced an Apprentice extra card. Developed specifically for worked based learners, the card gives apprentices access to the same discounts and offers as NUS extra card holders.
In time for National Apprentice Week Apprentice extra has launched Twitter and Facebook pages to provide an online community space for apprentices. Through social media card holders can connect with other apprentices and keep up to date with all the latest discount news and exclusive competitions.
The National Union of Students (NUS) has made a commitment to providing support services to the growing numbers of post-16 work based learners who, to date have been under represented in education.
Ed Marsh, Vice President for Union Development at NUS explained why NUS is leading this initiative. “Despite 81% of apprentices falling into the 16-24 age group, with many earning only the minimum apprentice wage of £2.60 per hour, apprentices do not generally have access to typical student benefits such as bank accounts and other discounts offered to other young people in higher education. NUS Apprentice extra will give them the same access to the discounts and, in due course, other benefits such as financial products especially selected for the value they offer to vocational learners.”
Apprentice extra card holders will be able to enjoy discounts on a variety of essentials including on travel, sport, books and DVD, technology, mobile and broadband, as well as fashion, beauty and going out, from more than 120 high street and online retail partners. Partners include ASOS, Amazon, Odeon, Rileys and Pizza Hut. Used wisely discounts can save card holders around £525 per year.
Apprentice extra offers card holders’ real, tangible savings that can make a big difference.
“I use it on my regular shopping and it was especially beneficial at Christmas when I saved up to 20% on some of my purchases. It also helps with my bus travel.” Karen Wickens, worked based learner with Smart Training & Recruitment Ltd.
As well as individual card holders there are currently 140 companies registered with Apprentice extra including Barnardos, De Vere Academy of Hospitality and the Association of Accounting Technicians, as well as training providers. The money generated from sales will go towards funding a National Society for Apprentices.
Gill Rogers, Business Development Director Smart Training and Recruitment Ltd, said; “As a training provider for 2,500 apprentices it is encouraging to see apprentices getting recognition for their status as work place learners. The Apprentice extra card gives them added support to enable them to make their money go further whilst they are in training, especially for those on the foundation programme who may not be in any employment yet. It all helps support them in their training, which is fantastic.”
Apprenticeships are on the increase, and research has shown that being an apprentice is perceived as a positive career choice. Research also highlighted a high demand for more support for apprentices. Respondents felt that a national society would give apprentices a stronger identity, a better image and more respect, as well as a voice to represent the interest of apprentices nationally, including political representation.
Ed Marsh added; “NUS has made a commitment to support apprentices, and the Apprentice extra card is the first step in that process. Our key objective is the formation of a National Society for Apprentices, so that apprentices will have a profile, a voice and similar benefits to those enjoyed by other groups of learners.”
The launch of this initiative was given parliamentary backing by MP Robert Halfon, who has engaged with stakeholders in vocational education keen to see this happen. Mr Halfon said, “For many months, I have worked with the NUS and employers to develop a National Society of Apprentices: starting with the Apprentice card.
“The card will finally put apprentices on a level playing-field with students, with the same financial benefits. But this is not just about economic efficiency it is about social justice as well. That’s why I was also among the first MPs to employ an apprentice in my Westminster office”.
John Hayes MP, the Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, said, “The Government is supporting the greatest number of apprenticeships our country has ever seen because we want more young people to develop the advanced practical skills that fuel growth and build fulfilling and productive careers.”
“To elevate vocational learning and competence, it is right that the hard work, skill and dedication of apprentices is recognised and rewarded alongside the achievements of other learners”.
“By reaching out to apprentices NUS is celebrating the worth of practical accomplishment, and helping to build a more cohesive and fairer society.”
Apprentice extra costs just £11 per year and gives access to over 120 high street and online retailers.
Follow Apprentice Extra on twitter www.twitter.com//apprenticeextra or visits the facebook page www.facebook.com/apprenticeextra.