Back in April this year, we partnered with an agency to analyse the reviews, providing the most comprehensive research ever done into the apprenticeship experience.
The overall headlines uncover that apprentices willing to recommend their apprenticeship employer to a friend has averaged a whopping 98% in the past five years. This is fantastic news for young people, considering a lack of information surrounding the quality of apprenticeships being delivered in the UK.
We’re also delighted to unveil that according to our research, the number of UK apprentices viewing their apprenticeships as a genuine career path has increased by almost 70%.
As a result, we’re able to reveal the seven building blocks companies need for running quality apprenticeship programmes.
So if you’re an employer of apprentices already, or thinking about whether to recruit them, here are your essential building blocks for providing a quality experience for your apprentices.
1. Inspiring leadership
Young people are inspired by leaders, not autocratic management. Our research revealed that more than a third (37%) of the apprenticeship reviews in 2018 point to the benefit of management appreciation - an increase from 30% four years ago.
Senior managers who act as coaches can motivate and show direction to help their apprentices develop skills. Companies’ senior leadership are recognising this effect, as 42% of all apprentices who responded acknowledge them as a source of support.
2. Building skills for work and life
Apprentices have indicated how learning plays a significant part in their apprenticeship programmes (an increase of more than a quarter over five years – from 23% of apprentices to 29%). This includes a blend of soft and technical skills, including communication, software and programming. However, building confidence as a skill has shown a slight decline in the past three years, suggesting that employers should be wary of ignoring the importance of developing confidence in their young employees who are new to the world of full-time work.
3. Valuable experience versus having fun
While apprentices are enjoying certain elements of their programme – such as being part of a workplace team – they are finding comparatively less fun in other activities, such as working with customers. To address this gap, companies need to explain the growth and development opportunities presented across all of the tasks involved in the day-to-day.
4. Creating passionate people
When giving advice to others based on their apprenticeship experience, passion for their scheme was rated very highly (19%). To engender this level of passion and confidence in apprentices, companies can help them connect their everyday activities with the overall mission of the organisation. Understanding the underlying vision and values of the company will help develop that passion, leading apprentices to become ambassadors for the company. This in turn encourages others to want to work there too.
5. Cushioning the cost
When asked whether their apprenticeship salary or package met their costs, more than a third (38%) of apprentices found their travel costs challenging. To make an apprenticeship programme more viable for the apprentice and to attract the best talent, companies need to think longer term and pay their apprentices enough to minimise financial pressures - and if they do, our research suggests they’ll get more out of the apprentice too.
6. Going beyond the day-to-day
Generation Z see themselves as global citizens and want to make a difference to society and the world around them. Interest in volunteering has increased by more than 80% (from 9% of apprentices in 2013 to 17%), whereas sport has declined from 33% to 26% over the past five years. It’s important for companies to take note of this shift and review the initiatives in place for their apprentices. This generation are all about helping others, whilst traditional workplace leisure activities are in decline.
7. Having someone by your side
Using workplace mentors to support apprentices is at its highest level in five years.
However, over the whole research period only 14% of apprentices felt the mentoring aspect of their programmes was well-managed, behind training (50%) and induction (31%). Mentors remain an undervalued component of a successful apprenticeship so it’s important for companies to allocate more of their resources to this element.
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