National Apprenticeship week

February 8th, 2021

It's National Apprenticeship week. Mischa Hollens, our Development Administrative Apprentice, shares his apprenticeship journey.

This week (8 – 14 February) is National Apprenticeship Week, which aims to shine a light on the amazing work being done by employers and apprentices across the country.

We touched base with Innovation Chain North’s, Mischa Hollens, to find out how our apprenticeship programme helped him to change careers, hanging up his chef knives to take up a new role in Development.

“Back when I was 16, I found myself at a crossroads of whether to go to university or follow in my family’s footsteps and go into working on the sets of film and advertising. After a year studying towards my AS-levels on subjects I wasn’t overly keen on, one thing was certain – I was done with revision and exams. After getting my AS results, I made the decision to leave my local sixth form and get a job in nearby London. Working as a runner in the film industry, I thought I’d feel fulfilled working in an industry full of big dreams and aspirations.

“Four years and one job change later (taking me out of London and into Watford running the catering on film sets), it dawned on me it wasn’t the career I wanted to pursue. The 18-hour days, six days a week, left me with little time to see friends and family and truth be told, I missed working in a big city. Not wanting to move back to London due to the high costs of living, I made the decision to move up to Manchester with my girlfriend while she finished her degree.

“Once settled in Manchester, I found myself back in the kitchen and working at a number of restaurants in and around the city. While cooking had always been a big passion of mine, the unsocial hours took their toll and I found myself struggling with a sense of direction. I wasn’t sure this was the job I wanted to do forever. With night school not being an option for me at the time, I decided to look for a suitable apprenticeship in an exciting industry that has lots of promise for personal development. And that’s when I saw the vacancy at Great Places for a Development Administration Apprentice.


“I applied for the role and before I knew it, I was hanging up the knives and heading into a new career. I felt a bit strange about going into an apprenticeship being 22, but I was excited for a fresh start and to learn new knowledge and skills in such a fast-paced industry.

It’s been 18 months since I started and it’s been a rollercoaster to say the least! My manager, Jo, introduced me to the framework and made sure that throughout my time as an apprentice, I was exposed to all aspects of the job. From data management and performance analysis, to managing the ICN framework alongside Jo, I’ve also been fortunate to have insight into how our affordable development programmes run from start to finish at Great Places.

“What I’ve enjoyed about my apprenticeship is how I’ve learnt on the job and been able to apply my learning into practice as I’ve gone along. I’m a practical person and have always been better at coursework and assessments throughout a course, which meant an apprenticeship suited my learning style better. It also meant I performed a lot better and have come away with a Distinction, which is a plus. What’s even better is the fact I’ve been paid to learn – much better than some of my friends who now have £50k debts!

“What I’d say to anyone who feels too old for an apprenticeship is to look passed that. Although it took me five years to find the right course for me, the wait is worthwhile and at last, I’m looking forward to what the future holds.”

For more information on apprenticeships visit