Four key trends from 6,200 reviews on

Posted by Liz on 10 Aug 2022

We saw a record 6,200 reviews submitted by apprentices on between June 2021 and May 2022. As the reviews provide a unique peer-to-peer insight into how apprentices are feeling about their experiences, we partnered with a research company to help us analyse them.

It's a follow up to the research we undertook in 2019, and launched the seven building blocks to quality apprenticeships at the RateMyApprenticeship Awards based on the feedback. 

Over 40,000 data points were interrogated and over 3.1 million words written by apprentices leaving their feedback, were sent to qualitative analysts at a company called Tribe, who helped turn the feedback into the four trends below.

We’ve also captured these trends on video in a recent virtual event we ran with none other than Tim Campbell, winner of the BBC’s first series of The Apprentice. Click here to watch the trends on video, or read on to find out more!

Trend 1 - The feedback is incredibly POSITIVE!

"All the evidence shows that employers are now managing apprenticeships extremely effectively." Tribe

There were three parts to this trend, the first being…

Ratings! - 1/3

  • The average review rating was an astonishing 8.4 / 10.

  • 97% of apprentices recommend their programme to a friend.

In a difficult year for onboarding, employee experience and engagement - what outrageously positive feedback from apprentices. The high review rating is the purest metric for success, so well done to all employers and training providers for together, across the industry have achieved such great feedback.

Females rate their experiences slightly higher at 8.44 / 10 and 98% recommend their scheme to a friend…. compared to the harder to please males who rate their experiences 8.3 / 10 and just the 96% recommend their scheme to a friend. 

Programmes are well structured - 2/3 

97% of apprentices said their programme was well structured and well organised. We believe this is because apprenticeships are so much more embedded within businesses.

The 2019 report involved feedback around disorganisation, lack of collaboration between line managers and HR - both of which are indicative of programmes starting and growing.

With such positive feedback around structure and organisation, it very much demonstrates how well established programmes have become.

The third mini-section demonstrates the support, from both Training Providers and employers.

Supportive environments - 3/3 

How much support do you receive from your Training Provider?

  • 76% said a lot 

  • 21% said a fair amount

  • 3% said not much 

The 76% average rises to 84% specifically for those on intermediate apprenticeships who will be spending more time learning , dropping to 69% for degree apprenticeships where they’ll need less support.

We speak about training providers as a whole, however mentions for each type of training provider show universities referenced in 36% of reviews, colleges in second at 28% and independent training providers referenced 20% of the time.

A third of the mentions for universities, really highlights the prevalence and growth of degree apprenticeships.

How much support do you receive from your employer?

  • 85% said a lot 

  • 13% said a fair amount

  • 2% said not much 

  • 85% saying a lot

Another incredibly positive outcome and upon further inspection as to where this feedback comes from, we were pleasantly surprised.

Almost one in two students referenced their line manager. One early barrier to successful apprenticeship programmes was buy-in from line managers, so this was superb to hear.

The wider team is referenced 22% of the time and then mentors and buddies combined at 17%... Mentors and buddies were a huge trend from the previous 2019 research - that friendly, peer-to-peer assigned support - and they’re just as prevalent again being mentioned in one in every five reviews.

When comparing per programme, mentors and buddies peaks at 22% for degree apprentices who will be naturally more experienced and be able to provide more competent support reducing in prevalence through lower level apprenticeships.

Conversely, line management references rose to 54% for both intermediate and advanced level apprentices, naturally requiring and receiving more top down direction and this reduced prevalence for higher level apprenticeships.

Trend 2 - Teamwork makes the dreamwork

The first review question requests apprentices give an overview of their role, and what this involves on a day-to-day basis.

The feedback highlights that working with a team is the main attribute to their day-to-day experience, with 29% referencing this and 17% working with customers day-to-day.

For some, there is a higher degree of administrative work, including checking items and tasks… The average is 9% across all levels, and that number doubles for intermediate level apprentices.

Learning appears high on the agenda, with presenting and solving problems bottom of the table, perhaps somewhat surprisingly - as we often hear young people are keen to improve their presenting skills.

Delving into the per programme analysis, working with a team is referenced most amongst the higher and degree levels, with over a third of apprentices across both levels referencing their involvement working in a team.

Whilst if look at the working with customers section and break that down per programme, working with customers is referenced most amongst levels 2 & 3, on an opposing sliding scale to the working with team slide, which makes sense, with more roles for level 2 & 3 apprentices being customer-facing, especially in the retail, or hospitality industries.

Trend 3 - Post-pandemic growth

There were three parts to this trend, the first being…

Enjoyment - 1/3 

The question apprentices respond to does have enjoy within it, so there’s the only caveat, however, enjoyment is far out in-front, being mentioned by one in every three apprentices. 

As you can see, when we delve into the long-tail of words most mentioned, you can start to see why apprentices are enjoying themselves. Learning is referenced by 19% of apprentices here and also features highly across another question as to why apprentices would recommend the company to a friend.

12% stated new skills specifically, 11% stating the team and then developing, interesting, loved it (which you could argue is similar to enjoyment) and 3% training. 

Overall, if you’re aiming to engage apprentices, everything they’re enjoying revolves around learning and development.

Social is back! - 2/3

When asked ‘Are there extra-curricular activities to get involved in at your work?‘ You can see here that apprentices are involved in a real range of extra-curricular activities, with social, sports, networking, then charity, volunteering and community work all featured. 

Some of this could be done online, but it’s unlikely. Socialising with colleagues is most frequently mentioned, which demonstrates apprentices are valuing the out-of-work experiences.

Charity was mentioned twice as frequently by intermediate and advanced level apprentices than it was for higher and degree levels, highlighting both a success for those running level 2 & 3 programmes, and also demonstrating a gap and an opportunity for those running programmes for higher levels.

Salaries - 3/3 

Salaries are mostly increasing, however unfortunately for intermediate apprentices, salaries reported have actually reduced. Salaries for advanced apprentices have risen 4%, higher apprentices up a whopping 23% and degree apprentices up 12% year on year. 

The higher and degree increases are very encouraging, however levels 2 & 3 really aren’t, especially when you’ve the macro-economic consideration of the rising cost of living with consumer goods increasing, the impact of war in Ukraine, the current Government in a state of turmoil.

It’s all over the media and of significant concern for apprentices starting their careers.

In May 2022, the annual rate of inflation was 9.1%, which is the highest it has been since 1982.

The Office for National Statistics are projecting the cost of living to peak at 11% in October, so it does put salary increases into perspective slightly and having a strategy for salaries is going to be important to attract future apprentices.

Trend 4 - Communication is booming

We ask apprentices, have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?

The soft skill of communicating is way out in front, with the two technical skills of software and programming second, just ahead of excel and we’re back to a soft skill in confidence building.

Presenting features at the bottom which was a surprise, as feedback from virtual events we’ve run is young people love to hear from other apprentices. I do feel this presents an opportunity given how much young people looking for apprenticeships trust hearing from their peers.

When we overlay the results from 2019, the general picture remains fairly similar. The biggest change has seen communication increase by 4% and stretch even further out in front. 

We believe due to both the increased importance and need for communication within businesses over such a period of uncertainty and remote working.

This dual impact has been a real success for communication and almost a third of apprentices are now stating this is a core skill they’ve learned or developed.

A final note on communication is the growth in respect and how visible HR has been... It’s more anecdotal in its analysis, but there were many complimentary references to commitment to pronouns… and awareness of wellbeing. 

The same with diversity & inclusion too, demonstrating some very positive changes fed back by apprentices around inclusivity.

In Summary…

Here’s your four trends from the six thousand reviews and three million words fed back by apprentices in the last year.

  1. The feedback is overwhelmingly positive - 97% apprentices would recommend their experience to a friend

  2. Teamwork makes the dreamwork - Across all levels, but even more so for higher and degree apprentices

  3. Post-pandemic growth - In enjoyment… with social back and salaries (mostly) increasing… for all levels but level 2 which is a flag

  4. Communication is booming - Apprentices are valuing both the increased communication as well as the more inclusive approach

Hope you found all those trends useful and if you'd like to chat more, drop us a line here.