Latest news > Dear Prospective Apprentices – By Heather Duffield

Dear Prospective Apprentices – By Heather Duffield

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What do David Beckham, Karren Brady, Stella McCartney and Jamie Oliver have in common? Aside from being super talented, successful people, they were all apprentices once upon a time.

I’ve never written a blog before. I always seem to struggle to get my point across or I tend to ramble on and on and on…. So, forgive me before you read on! Anyway, as it’s National Apprenticeship Week 2023, I thought it would be a brilliant time to write about how apprenticeships are perceived, and to tell you all about this incredible way to gain a qualification and achieve considerable personal development.

From my years of experience in this area, I feel that there is still a stigma attached to apprenticeships, especially from a parent’s point of view, as many feel apprenticeships are not a great option of further education for their children. I have been involved in a lot of events where I get to speak to young people and their parents, and it is still quite common to hear from the adults, that their child ‘is going’ to do A levels and then go on to Uni. They think that this is the best, and only course of action for any young person, and some aren’t open to hearing anything more about the amazing benefits of their child becoming an apprentice.

I have also had hundreds of conversations with young people, who don’t know about apprenticeships. They tell me that they have been ‘pushed’ down the A level route, and many wished they’d been informed about the apprenticeship option in more detail, because rather than starting A levels or another course at college, they are more suited to an apprenticeship and hands on learning!!

Now, there is a small part of me that really does get this, as I come from an era where there was always a story being told about young people being sent off for a tin of tartan paint or a ‘long weight (wait)’. When I left school there was the disapproval from parents because they truly believed that as an apprentice, you’d just be making tea, sweeping the floor, or just being a general dogsbody. But you know what? In this day and age, an apprenticeship just isn’t that. Yes, you’ll have to make the odd cup of tea, but don’t we all?

So, what actually is an apprenticeship?

In a nutshell, an apprenticeship is an awesome way of getting real life work experience and develop your expertise in your chosen field, whilst gaining a recognised qualification AND you get paid! You will either go to college one day a week, have remote tutoring, a combination of remote and workplace visits, or in some instances a block of time at college or university (block release), and the rest of your working hours will be spent at work.

Sounds pretty amazing right, so let’s go into a bit more detail.

There are 659 apprenticeship standards that are approved for delivery. That’s 659 different qualifications that can be achieved through actually carrying out the work, and gaining relevant knowledge and experience to that qualification.

For example:

Want to be a pilot? There’s an apprenticeship for that:

Thought you needed to go to Uni to become a teacher? NOPE!

Do you long to work with animals, but aren’t sure you want the Uni life?

Apprenticeships cover all levels right from Level 2 (GCSE) all the way up to Level 7 (Degree), so there is a really great choice of qualifications no matter what level you are at. Then there’s the variety! Let’s take Business Administration – you could be working in a law firm, education, HR, public services, accountancy, manufacturing, logistics…. The list goes on! So, whilst you are gaining business experience and your qualification, you are learning about different industries too. And what about after your apprenticeship? Well, the possibilities are endless… were you doing business admin in a law firm? Your next step could be law qualifications (this is already happening with an employer I work with). You are not tied to one position and one industry. This is a way to learn, broaden your opportunities, gain industry knowledge, and have all the information and experience to make a choice.

Let me share a little success story of our own, and take someone who is interested in digital marketing, like our fabulous Amelia Finch. Amelia joined us at DBC Training as our apprentice marketing assistant. She came aboard with limited experience, but a genuine interest in marketing and a real desire to learn. She was supported by our marketing manager, Pete, and so, Amelia (under Pete’s supervision) started to work on our social media content, our website, and the promotion of our services. She has learnt all aspects of digital marketing, whilst gaining more confidence to manage tasks with minimal supervision. All the work she has done meets the requirements of the digital marketing apprenticeship standard, and she has learnt all this whilst actually doing the job! She spends 6 hours per week on her ‘off the job training’ and is working towards a level 3 qualification in digital marketing, which is the equivalent to two A Levels. Not only has Amelia now got some pretty fantastic work experience in the field she wants a career in, but she has experience of working with lots of different people and departments, working on different projects and events, being able to put forward her own ideas and to have a certain level of autonomy. She has been able to showcase her creativity and allow herself to stand out as a valuable member of the team, earning recognition and a decent level of knowledge and experience to take forward in her career. She has attended events, made a difference to our business, and is an integral part of our team. Amelia will gain her qualification and much, much more, not to mention a decent wage and progression opportunities and a real sense of job satisfaction and pride. You don’t get all that in a classroom!

Amelia Finch – Marketing Apprentice at DBC Training

To summarise, as I realise I talk a lot when I am excited! As an apprentice you will receive a qualification in an area that you are truly interested in, whilst working in a real life work environment, carrying out duties relevant to that qualification. Instead of being stuck in a classroom, you will ACTUALLY be doing the work! How amazing will it be for a young person to experience this? Going to work, gaining independence and responsibility, learning life skills and increasing confidence. You will be working with people from all ages and walks of life, and will have the support from your team and your managers to ensure your success.

You will not be given a job and told to get on with it. You will not be left alone for 50+ hours per week, and you won’t be sent to pick up a glass hammer. You will be treated the same as every other employee, your ideas will be listened to and YOU WILL BE VALUED!

Check these stats for yourself:
96% of employers with apprentices have experienced at least one benefit from taking on apprentices, and most can count at least 8 benefits
74% of employers say that apprentices improved products or service quality, and 78% say that they improved productivity. Apprentices become highly skilled even before they finish their training
69% of employers say that employing apprentices improved staff retention
65% of apprentices stay working for the company that trained them when they complete their apprenticeship
73% of employers say that staff morale is improved by having apprentices

Don’t get me wrong, an apprenticeship is not for everyone, but it DOES need to be discussed, and it needs to be discussed A LOT more than it currently is. I passionately believe that young people should be given all the information to allow them to make an informed decision which will suit THEM, THEIR learning styles, and THEIR needs.

Let’s not work to our agenda and keep pushing our young people into A Levels and Uni. Let’s have more conversations about apprenticeships, and let’s talk about all the doors that they can open for a long and rewarding career. Let’s give them all the information about all the options, and let’s provide support and guidance to allow them to make informed choices for themselves.

If you, your child, your school, your business, or someone you know would like to find out more about apprenticeships, please get in touch with me: