Apprenticeships must be championed by the boardroom

Feb 18, 2021 | Apprentices & school leaver

New data reveals the challenges of apprenticeships and why senior stakeholder buy-in is essential, reports Kate Burnett at DMA Talent.

Apprenticeship programmes can be extremely rewarding for talent and businesses alike, yet the professional world is still not using them to their full potential. The UK Government’s apprenticeships programme in England is still failing to attract enough businesses and offer sufficient opportunities to aspiring young talent.

To better understand the biggest challenges surrounding apprenticeships across the data and marketing industry, the Data & Marketing Association’s (DMA) talent function, DMA Talent, recently published a new report into apprenticeships, supported by the DM Trust.

The ‘Apprenticeships: The Hidden Potential’ report reveals key insights into what is limiting uptake, as well as the opportunities that they can bring to an organisation.

DMA Talent interviewed senior professionals to learn more about their usage of apprenticeships, what was working well and what challenges they faced, and how industry bodies like the DMA can help.


Key findings

The key challenges highlighted by professionals include: Boardrooms being difficult to engage for programme development and funding; organisations struggling to find training providers that are accredited for data and marketing apprenticeships; confusion about what the apprenticeship levy can be used for.

The interviewees also revealed the key benefits of employing an apprentice. Many stated that apprenticeships made their talent acquisition more diverse, with the benefit of fresh perspectives from the young talent coming through from a variety of different backgrounds.

It was also highlighted that they help to develop a more capable workforce with specialist skills, as apprentices often learn educational theory while developing practical work experience.

The report goes on to reveal what assistance is needed to increase take-up, and what businesses, the government and industry bodies like the DMA can do to make apprenticeships more successful. It was clear that the structure of apprenticeships also needs to be reviewed to allow better balance between work and study time, with improved flexibility.

To succeed, apprenticeships need to become part of an organisation’s overall talent strategy – driven by the boardroom so they become embedded into the DNA of a business. With more support and guidance for businesses, the number of apprenticeship schemes will increase.

Apprenticeships have the potential to broaden the collective skill set and diversity of talent within an organisation, which will help industries, like the data and marketing industry, to better represent customers and UK society. Apprenticeships also support the local community, with more local talent finding employment and developing new skills.

But first, senior stakeholder buy-in must improve. This can be achieved by boosting understanding of the apprenticeship levy and helping organisations to discover accredited training providers.

Read ISE’s recommendations for apprenticeships

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