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Sophie Smith
Feb 6, 2024

Diving into Apprenticeships:

Today marks my 31st day working for Apprentify. Whilst I have worked in early careers for many years and always loved developing junior talent within my teams, the move into apprenticeships specifically was new.  

A Spectrum of Awareness:

It has been a steep learning curve; understanding the history of apprenticeshipsthe forming of Modern Apprenticeships, the role of the Government in the shaping of them, how the funding works, the significant amount of compliance in the industry and most importantly the value they bring to both businesses and learners. It feels wonderful to be working back in an industry I am truly passionate about.  

My diary has been busy, and I have met with over 40 very different businesses; from a global company that has successfully delivered its own apprenticeships internally for many years, through to a smaller SME who are looking to use the funding to formalise the development of an existing employee who is forced to wear multiple hats without being fully qualified to do so and everything in-between. 

What I've learnt: 

From the conversations I have had, what I have found most unbelievable is the drastic differences between how much people know about apprenticeships, and how and why businesses engage with them. Forward thinking businesses see apprenticeships as more than simply a different way to recruit people and are actively building them into, and embedding them, within their people and L&D strategies. Interestingly, within these businesses it is the board and C-Suite who are engaging in the whole process and not only the HR teams.  

For some businesses, apprenticeships are being used as a brilliant way to drive diversity into the workforce which enriches company culture and in turn offers a better experience for employees and clients. Some businesses are embedding apprenticeships within their company CSR as they are finding that their own clients now consider a robust CSR policy as essential from all suppliers.  

According to the Employer Skills Survey 2023:

"40% of employees did not receive any form of training in 2022."

For many businesses, they are unable to allocate as much budget as they would like towards training as other things take priority. Of the businesses I have spoken with, there are only a few who fully understand the levy and are using this as a huge opportunity to train new and existing employees. Whether an organisation is an SME or a levy payer, there is funding available to support the development of existing staff or new hires.  

Whilst the way that levy funding is used is currently being debated, it is a simple concept and one that enables most businesses to train existing staff on structured training or invest in new future talent with 95-100% funded programmes. 

There are also themes in many of the conversations I have had around manager nerves in hiring new apprentices. There seems to be some misconceptions of what apprenticeships involve, the expectations around what they can achieve and the role they play within the business. I must admit, I hadn’t fully appreciated the value until I viewed first hand an apprentice assessment day and heard the success stories from the many businesses embracing themThe Modern Apprenticeship is not what it used to be, they are aligned to very strict standards that ensure content is relevant to the role and valuable, and further still, they offer value beyond simply getting a bum on a seat and task complete.  

Despite there being over 750,000 apprentices learning on programmes in the last academic year, it still seems relatively new concept to many businesses and the level at which they are embedded into the people strategy varies drastically.  Some businesses are doing a brilliant job at getting the most from the concept whilst others remain cautious. I would recommend that any business who is not fully versed with the apprenticeship offering explores it for both new hires and investing in existing employeesTo truly embed apprenticeships within the business, this is not only a role that sits with HR, but with the wider leadership team and board too 

So yes, I have gone back to school in the last 30 days and have thoroughly enjoyed learning lots about the value of apprenticeships, what businesses are doing well and unfortunately what many are missing out on. With the next 30 days looking even busier, I look forward to running an upcoming assessment day for a new client, joining a leadership meeting for a client to support their managers understand the value of apprenticeships and also facilitating in the development of a new technology apprenticeship academy in an IT business aiming to form a springboard for school leavers who want to progress into the IT Industry.