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Apprenticeships 2019

Debunking the common misconceptions of apprenticeships

iStock / Getty Images Plus / fizkes

Jenny Patrickson

Managing Director, Active IQ

Apprenticeships are really coming into their own now, and with good reason. Initially the reformed standards and new processes were received with caution. However, with successful cohorts coming through into the workplace, these upgraded apprenticeships are gaining the respect they deserve.

The timing couldn’t be better: the continued cost of university combined with the comprehensive range of apprenticeships on offer are really winning over youngsters. Many would prefer to earn and learn in employment, rather than rack up a debt in excess £30,000 without a guaranteed job when they graduate.

Apprenticeships are highly valued by employers and learners

Not so long ago, apprenticeships were considered an educational ‘back up’ option – or even a last resort. Today, with the new standards, robust training and rigorous assessment process, apprenticeships are more highly valued by employers and learners.

A common misconception is that apprenticeships are an ‘easy option’ for less academic learners. Not so. Apprenticeships are in-depth, thorough and require commitment from day one to study while working. While not ‘easier’, they are more accessible to people who enjoy reinforcing their learning by consolidating new skills and knowledge though applying them at work.

There are now apprenticeships for management

Another common misconception is that apprenticeships are just for younger adults entering the world of work. While many apprentices are indeed relatively young and inexperienced, apprenticeships are by no means limited to career starters. Many courses are designed to develop skills to take junior to middle management employees up to the next level.

Savvy employers are seeing apprenticeships as a route to attracting and retaining the best talent for their business. And they’re right to do so. Today’s apprenticeships aren’t prescriptive and can be aligned to what the employer requires, ensuring they can train apprentices in skills that directly correlate to what they require from their staff to, in turn, precisely support their business model.

Apprenticeships receive fresh respect in the workplace

It’s fair to say the overhauled apprenticeships have more thorough training and more rigorous assessment. Both good things to my mind as they mean an apprentice who passes has achieved something worthwhile and their qualification is to be valued and respected.

The tougher training and assessments are nothing to be afraid of – provided the apprenticeship training has been delivered to a high standard, the apprentice has been supported along the way by their employer and training provider and the End-point Assessment (EPA) team has kept a close eye on all parties. Our experience shows the EPA team must support the employer as much as the apprentice, so everyone knows what is expected of them. Understanding the competence, behaviours and knowledge fundamental to success is key and the EPA organisation carries much of the responsibility for this.

Today’s apprenticeships add significant value to employers and employees, preparing people for work and promotion to fulfil their career potential. And you can’t ask for more than that.

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