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Apprenticeship Misconceptions: Fact or Fiction
We confront the misconceptions that have followed apprenticeships for over 500 years.
Fiction: An apprentice must spend one day a week away from the office, in a classroom
Fact: An apprentice must be involved in 'off the job' development activity for 20% of their time but this does not mean that they have to be away from their day job or attending college one day a week. Development activity is anything that helps the learner gain new skills, and may include orientations into the business, shadowing or reflecting on their experiences.
Fiction: Graduates are more valuable to my business than apprentices
Fact: Graduates and apprentices are not an either/or and are not mutually exclusive. Apprentices and graduates bring very different qualities and so, depending on the focus of your early careers programme in each business area, one may be more suitable than the other for that particular aim. The degree qualification is no longer a differentiator, however, as (arguably better) degree-level academic knowledge can now be gained through young people leaving school and opting for a degree apprenticeship. In this case, young people gain both a degree as well as an apprenticeship qualification, whilst also gaining industry experience and learning academic knowledge that has been defined by employers rather than university boards.
Fiction: It is the responsibility of schools, colleges and the government to tell young people about apprenticeship opportunities
Fact:The bottom line is that if you want the top talent, you need to get your hands dirty and promote your programmes yourself. It is a sad fact that over 2/3 of the Academy members we surveyed did not have enough information to make an informed decision on whether to attend university or to look into apprenticeship options. It is simply not acceptable that students don't have the information (which then has an adverse effect on the employers looking to recruit from this talent pool), and to tackle this challenge we need everyone to be involved.
Fiction: Apprenticeships are only suitable for entry level roles, as they are aimed at young people ages 16-24 at the start of their careers
Fact: Apprenticeships have been designed to develop people at all stages of their careers, enabling them to develop in their current, or prepare for their future role. An apprentice can be any age and many employers are now integrating apprenticeships into their graduate programmes: not to mention development programmes (including Masters and profession qualifications) for senior members of staff.
Fiction: Apprenticeships don't deliver qualifications that are valuable to my business
Fact: Apprenticeships are more than just training and qualifications. Academic understanding is only one part of an apprenticeship standard - an apprentice will gain relevant skills, knowledge and behaviours - and so an apprenticeship is arguably even more valuable than qualifications gained traditionally. An apprentice will develop full, rounded competence within a role. Many apprenticeships also include professional qualifications such as ILM (Management), CIPD (HR) and CIMA (Finance) and so the qualifications are directly linked to professional recognition. The apprenticeship standards are written by employers and so have employability at the very heart of their purpose.