What makes a great apprenticeship?

May 14, 2019 | Apprentices & school leaver

An award-winning apprenticeship is about more than just qualifications and training – it’s about the entire experience. Jack Denton from All About School Leavers considers their annual awards to explain what makes a great apprenticeship.

Like any employee, apprentices’ value things like company culture, the support they receive and job satisfaction. Employers wanting to build a genuinely great programme would do well to pay as much attention to these aspects as they would the training provided or the qualifications their apprentices achieve. 

The School Leaver Awards are based on surveys of apprentices and school leaver trainees from 100 UK organisations. They acknowledge the great work done by employers and are a good place to start looking in terms of examples to follow. Last year’s winners included Nestlé for Best Level of Support, Schroders for Best Job Satisfaction and Barclays for Best Company Culture. 

The surveys rank categories of programme – School Leaver Programmes, Intermediate Apprenticeships, Advanced Apprenticeships, Higher Apprenticeships, and Degree Apprenticeships – as well as industry. This year’s finalists show that brilliant apprenticeships are being offered in all industries, from finance and professional services, like Goldman Sachs, PwC and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, to arts institutions like The Royal Opera House.


Student perspective

AllAboutSchoolLeavers’ research shows that students consider a range of factors when deciding whether or not to apply for a training programme. Salary remains the most important of these, so employers should consider this when setting up apprenticeship schemes. 

Work experience schemes are the most important factor in convincing school leavers to actually apply for an apprenticeship – 46.5% say it is most likely to change their mind. A further 41.6% say that open days, talks and workshops from employers are of interest and could help convince them of the opportunities available. 

Employers setting up apprenticeship programmes should consider these findings – work experience schemes could act as an effective recruitment stream into programmes, and ensure that trainees are already enthusiastic about the business and the role they take on. 


Going the extra mile

In terms of going the extra mile to ensure a well-rounded programme experience, employers could introduce a buddy system for their apprentices – teaming them up with slightly more senior colleagues, or even those who’ve just completed the same apprenticeship scheme – to establish support networks outside of the apprentice and line manager relationship. This can help improve the experience for trainees and make them feel more comfortable talking though any issues at work. 

Organising regular social activities is another way to help apprentices feel a real part of your team. Regular review meetings as well as public acknowledgment (and congratulations) when apprentices achieve significant milestones helps ensure that they feel valued and to see how they’re progressing.

Apprentice employers should keep an eye on this year’s School Leaver Awards winners, which will be announced at ceremony in London on Thursday 23 May. They are a great place to start when trying to improve or create a brilliant apprenticeship scheme. 

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