On Tuesday morning, Capgemini Salesforce Consultant Pallavi Boppana made a guest appearance before the Cabinet in a special session at 10 Downing Street. She told her own story of being one of our higher apprentices, before answering questions from members of the Cabinet, including Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
In August 2014, Pallavi – alongside her father – was the face of the National Apprenticeship Service’s advertising campaign. Launched during the GCSE and "A" level results announcements, the campaign was a hit and led to Pallavi’s invitation to Number 10.
As Pallavi explained, "the invitation was extended to us through the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS). Business Secretary Vince Cable wants to push out a new policy on apprenticeships and he wanted the Cabinet to hear from an existing apprentice. Apparently the campaign I was featured in as part of Capgemini was very successful!"
Presenting to the Cabinet
"I was accompanied by Becky Plant, Head of Apprentice and Graduate Programmes and another apprentice, who came from an engineering company in Oxford. Initially, we went to the offices of the Department of Business Innovation and Skills offices on Victoria Street where, over tea, we were briefed by Vince Cable.
Talking about her visit to 10 Downing St, Pallavi said: "After the briefing, we walked over to 10 Downing Street, passed through security and went inside. We were taken to the Cabinet Room where we had an audience of around 40 people, which included ministers and their advisers. I have spoken to larger crowds, but they weren’t people who are running the country! So I was quite nervous. However, they were very welcoming and easy to talk to," - she added.
Promoting apprenticeships to young people and their parents
"I told my story of what I had to do to find my apprenticeship, how I managed to convince my parents that I wanted to do it and so on. This was followed by a Q&A, which I wasn’t expecting!" commented Pallavi.
"The ministers wanted to know how we can push apprenticeships to young people, at what age should they be told about apprenticeships and how can parents and teachers can be convinced of the value of apprenticeships? They also wanted to know the best way to tell young people, schools and parents that university is not the only way into a career".
"David Cameron asked lots of questions. He was particularly interested in what might be the best age to start pushing apprenticeships".
Impressions of 10 Downing Street
Pallavi concluded: "My impression of 10 Downing Street itself was that it’s very businesslike – as were the people coming and going. It was a little overwhelming. While everyone else walked in with a purpose, I was the only person looking around – rather like a deer caught in the headlights! However, it was a very interesting morning and certainly not one I’ll soon forget!"
In addition to the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Business Secretary, Pallavi also met the Greg Clark, Minister for Universities and Science, Matthew Hancock, Minister of State for Skills & Enterprise, Nicky Morgan, Education Secretary and Minister of State for Women and Equalities, Elizabeth Truss, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Esther McVey, Minister of State for Employment.
Ambassadors for apprenticeships
After the event Business Secretary Vince Cable commented, "These two young apprentices made an impressive and powerful case to Cabinet this morning about the attractions of an apprenticeship over an academic route into employment. They were highly articulate and real ambassadors for women pursuing successful careers in science and engineering."
The Prime Minister tweeted:
Pallavi is a Salesforce Consultant in the Digital Solutions Unit.