Did you see the apprenticeship campaign adverts on the TV this Christmas break? “Get in, go far” is the Government’s chosen theme to give the apprenticeship the big 2017 make-over in line with the mandatory apprenticeship levy in April. The series of beautifully produced short films show how Lucy, Daisy, Chris and others have bypassed university and are thriving instead on apprenticeship schemes with the likes of Boots and IBM. The films tick all the boxes for the not going to uni crowd, but do they do enough to change the national perception of apprenticeship schemes and apprentices?
The apprenticeship levy has been introduced to up-skill the UK workforce and tackle youth unemployment. The Government would like businesses operating in England to deliver 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020.
But employers don’t have to offer apprenticeships to new employees, or to post A-level employees and for me, this is where the new campaign falls down. Apprenticeships will be open to anyone at any age and (almost) any stage of their career from GCSE school leavers to experienced graduates. And if this is not understood by the general public, then it won’t be understood by many of your employees. It will fall to you to explain why and how you are introducing apprenticeships into your organisation.
By now you probably have a good idea of how you will be spending your apprenticeship fund. You might be taking on more school-leavers and fewer graduates; you might be converting un-skilled workers from other industries; or you might be offering more formal structured training to existing employees. There will probably be an external attraction campaign at some point down the line. But before you advertise your scheme externally, you should get the story right on the inside: understanding and buy-in from your managers and employees will contribute to the success of the apprenticeship scheme in the long term.
- Be clear about how your apprenticeship scheme(s) will be positioned in the organisation and who it will be open to.
- Decide what you will call your apprenticeship scheme and what the proposition is.
- Launch your apprenticeship scheme internally – tell your employees about the levy and how the fund will benefit the organisation.
- If you are offering apprenticeships to existing employees, decide how they will be selected and how it will be communicated to those selected and those not selected.
- Engage managers and teams to ensure that the apprentices have a great experience.
- Develop a bespoke onboarding programme for new apprenticeships.
- Seek out success stories, ambassadors and mentors.
- Establish apprenticeship networks with regular on-going communication.
I hope that the government campaign will do enough to persuade young people and influencers about the benefits of joining apprenticeship schemes and that future demand will be met. In the meantime, make sure that everyone in your organisation is on-board with the apprenticeship scheme(s) you are offering and ready to make it a success.
Author: Emily Larkin