Apprenticeships – a Misunderstood Topic

When we think of someone working towards an apprenticeship, we may have in our minds a young school leaver, working in a vocational role, maybe in a factory or an engineering environment, on a starter wage, for several years.

Part of this perception is still true; apprenticeships are designed to attract youngsters into work with opportunities.

However, there was a change in 2014 when the then Prime Minister David Cameron launched the new standards in apprenticeships. To fund these, businesses paid a levy, based on payroll, into a fund that could only be spent on providing their employees with apprenticeship training. I was at the launch in Downing Street!

At that time, apprenticeships became available not just to attract young talent but to provide for opportunities for existing staff. Apprenticeships have now largely taken over from NVQs.

SIG has a levy pot to fund apprenticeship training and some staff are currently taking advantage of this.

Alex Sinclair, recently promoted to Interim Service Manager for Bedfordshire Accommodation Services, has just been awarded her level 3 Housing and Property Management Apprenticeship.  Alex spoke to me about her journey.

“I knew that this course would be of value to me, it covers such a wide range of housing topics from H&S, rent, legislation and law and lots more. Personally, I think I learn better in a classroom style, but my tutor was excellent and really supported me. I met them face to face pre-pandemic but then my study continued with meetings online.”

I asked Alex about her time management on the course, she answered:

“I did spend time outside my working hours but that’s because it suited me. I also had to pause my learning for a while due to personal reasons but picked it up again.”

Would an apprenticeship suit others?

“Yes, I am keen for some of my team to start on this learning journey to progress their careers, as I have done.”

Another SIG team member is just starting her apprenticeship journey. Danielle Sealey, Support Lead at Synergy, Luton has commenced a level 4 Lead Practitioner in Adult Care course.

Danielle admitted that it has been a bit of a struggle so far.

“I had previously completed a level 3 NVQ qualification and wanted the next step up, but it has been a struggle, I am going to take a pause in learning and look to start again in the New Year. I find that combining my job role with the demands of my clients can be tricky and due to having to reconvene missing meetings with my tutor it has become a bit scattered and difficult to plan, however I really want to attain the qualification.”

There is no doubt that completing an apprenticeship at any level is a hard work and it can be tough balancing a demanding role with study, it can be a big challenge, especially if you have been out of a learning environment for some time. It is key to have a supportive manager and some protected study time, as training should be completed in working hours.

However, the benefits of gaining a qualification can be great and support your career journey in which ever sector you decide to work in.

Graham Eveleigh, Talent Development Partner