Apprentices. Apprenticeships. Could they be right for you?

It’s National Apprenticeship Week! This week, 6-12th February, brings together everyone passionate about apprenticeships to celebrate the value, benefits, and opportunities these schemes can bring to local communities, businesses, and the wider economy. From school leavers to small business owners, Graduates to CEOs, colleagues in the education sector, employers, communities, and individuals are encouraged to get involved by sharing how work-based training can help the future workforce develop real-life skills and knowledge.

Why start an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are a fantastic route for those looking to enter into a chosen industry of interest…and they aren’t just for school-leavers! Did you know they are for anyone – at any stage in their career – whether already in a job or just starting out? They are a great way to gain knowledge and learn new skills whilst working. It’s the best of both worlds! 

Practical on-the-job skills training is combined with off-the-job learning which enables the development and application of essential knowledge, skills (including life skills), and behaviours that are necessary for the role. An apprenticeship shows commitment and dedication to moving forward in that role – qualities looked for by employers in every industry sector. So, in a nutshell…

  • Earn while you learn – You’ll earn money and valuable work experience while working towards gaining a nationally recognised qualification
  • Gain qualifications – you’ll gain on-the-job training and supportive study while you work
  • The benefits of full-time work – this includes paid sick leave, at least 20 days of paid holiday, and statutory maternity or paternity pay and leave
  • Workplace pension – you’ll be automatically be enrolled in a workplace pension as long as you meet the pension eligibility criteria.
  • No debt – unlike a university degree, there’s no debt with an apprenticeship but you can work towards degree-level qualifications
  • NUS Apprentice Card – since an apprenticeship is still a study programme, you’ll gain the same perks and discounts available to other students.

Potential benefits to businesses.

As experts within all industries begin to retire after decades of work, those roles need to be filled by talented and driven younger people to become the next set of experts. Working with local colleges and schools to connect with young people who are deciding on their careers gives you a chance to work alongside the next generation of workers entering your industry, making sure they develop the knowledge, attitude, and practical skills to succeed. By developing the talent pool in your business you will develop a motivated, skilled, and qualified workforce who can build their careers through apprenticeship progression.

Many apprentices stay with their employer when they finish their apprenticeship. This can make a sustainable investment in the skills to support your business… 

  • Motivation of employees to learn new skills/upskill with formal training for at least 12 months
  • Benefit from a recognised, respected programme delivering opportunities nationally and across all industry sectors
  • A productive and effective way to grow talent 
  • Capitalising on new ideas and a fresh perspective
  • Improved productivity

There is a lot of information out there but, as a starting point, holds practical advice for employers, employees and school leavers looking for more direction.

We asked around our Perch community and it seems that apprenticeships are very well supported in the Bicester/Oxfordshire area.

Case study No.1

Digital Gearbox, based in Perch Studios, actively take part in the Digital Marketing Apprenticeship scheme. We caught up with them for a Q&A session.

Q: Who do you currently have onboard and how did you get hold of them?
A: We currently have 2 apprentices, Luke and Maddie, who we acquired by advertising online both independently and via our training provider Estio. 

Q: What expertise do the apprentices gain and what expectations do you have when they join you? 
A: When an apprentice joins the team we expect them to come with a hunger to learn and to try their best. Within the first week of joining, the apprentices successfully become Google Ads certified. They will start to learn the ropes of Pay Per Click advertising across a range of platforms. This includes things like managing budgets, bids and strategising for clients. 

Q: Future employment opportunities – where do they go next? 
A: The Digital Marketing Apprenticeship provides a range of avenues for the individual. They have the potential of staying with us or it provides them with the skills, knowledge and experience to move on to a new adventure. We have had 2 apprentices qualify while with us. One stayed for a few months after qualifying and then started up their own social media agency. The other – our first ever apprentice, Isabella – is still with us and has made use of all the possible opportunities within Digital Gearbox; becoming an Account Executive and now an Account Manager. 

Q: The 2023 National Apprenticeship Week theme is ‘skills for life’…is there anything you feel has benefitted your apprentices from working with you?
A: An apprenticeship can often be an individual’s first experience in a work environment, which can be a great opportunity to develop some life skills. Many of our apprentices have grown to become confident communicators, learnt to manage their own time and work effectively within a team. 

If you are interested in finding out more on apprenticeships within the Digital Marketing industry, please click here 

Case study No.2

Jack Harrington is nearly at the end of his 1 year Property Maintenance Apprenticeship. For those of you who use Perch Coworking and know the team from Bicester Living you will recognise Jack and Phil Heritage as a part of our fabulous Point of Difference maintenance team. 

Jack, who attends the Bicester Campus of Abingdon and Witney Construction College, found the course on the site. Phil was approached by the college and, as a potential employer, he decided to take part in the scheme and mentor Jack.

For 4 days a week, Phil guides and advises Jack in all areas of Property Maintenance ranging from plumbing to tiling, carpentry to basic electrics (and everything else in between!) enabling Jack to attend college 1 day week to submit evidence of the trade tasks that he has been involved with.

It works both ways…Phil gets another pair of capable hands to help with his increasingly busy business and Jack gains valuable knowledge from the master himself plus #SkillsForLife in a sector that he loves.

Jack has exams in a couple of months which will include being assessed on practical tasks set and submission of a 1000 word research task essay. Following this, he is hoping to stay on with Phil and become an even more valuable member of his team.

To find out more on construction courses at Jack’s college, please click here.

Fancy an apprenticeship in the car industry…Classic Cars, to be precise?

The Heritage Skills Academy (HSA), based at Bicester Heritage, offers courses to those aged 16+ to give them the skills and qualifications they need to pursue their dream career in the classic car industry.

Organisations like the Heritage Skills Academy are crucial to teaching younger generations the ‘proper’ skills needed and, with electric cars beginning to take over the spotlight, it guarantees the future of classic cars.

“We recruit and train apprentices who are passionate about heritage vehicles and want to pursue a career in this exciting industry. We work closely with you and our employer partners to ensure excellent placements in supportive settings;  where you can develop your skills as you progress through the Heritage Engineering Technician Apprenticeship.”

For more information on what the Heritage Skills Academy can offer, please click here.

There is a lot of information out there but, as a starting point, holds practical advice for those looking for more direction.

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If you would like more information on how we can help support you on your journey, please get in touch.
Call 01869 690126 or email [email protected]

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