Providing apprenticeships that encourage diversity and business growth
As National Apprenticeship Week shines a light on the benefits of in-work training opportunities, Anna Hickey, managing director of media agency Wavemaker, considers how employers can look beyond traditional placements.
National Apprenticeship Week 2018 aims to raise awareness of the apprenticeship as a route to a promising career, and the past few days have certainly showcased some of the recent innovation in entry-level careers programmes.
A new approach from business is needed because, at worst, apprenticeships have acquired a reputation as a means of providing cheap labour or basic support for employers, setting up meeting rooms or providing the tea, rather than teaching applicants a real skill.
However, this situation is changing because the best apprenticeship schemes from employers are now geared towards long-term success for both the applicant and business.
In light of this progress, we chose to launch The Splash, Wavemaker’s new apprenticeship programme, during National Apprenticeship Week, showcasing our drive to identify and hire a diverse range of talent, and reflecting our mission to provide accelerated learning and real work opportunities, no matter the background or discipline of each recruit.
Why look beyond the traditional apprentice scheme?
Learning a skill is vital, so each of the 12 entry-level hires we expect to make through The Splash will focus on a specific area of Wavemaker’s business media, content, or technology. The apprenticeship qualification itself is important, and is provided through our partnership with Creative Pioneers, the body that offers apprenticeship opportunities across the digital creative industries.
But an entry-level programme is all about promoting and accelerating diversity, because the pace of change is too slow and lack of progress is adversely impacting business. We don’t have an issue attracting high quality graduates, rotating them through different parts of the business and watching them succeed.
The only downside to this successful programme (which we are continuing this year) is that the recruits tend to be very similar highly talented and smart but from the same 10 or 12 universities. All the research shows that diversity of talent and experience delivers better business outcomes so the launch of The Splash is an important step forward.
Contrary to received wisdom, an apprentice scheme is also an opportunity to unlock opportunities from talented people that are older – they might be in completely different careers, working in a shop, call centre, or working at home as a carer, but these people have huge potential and can bring something else to your business.
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How to attract the talent
To encourage this diversity, it’s worth considering a process that’s not overly focused on CVs, asking instead that applicants address a real issue in any way they see fit. For instance, were requesting that applicants tell us how youd sell life insurance to someone under the age of 35.