By Paul-Stuart Greenough
Apprenticeships have in the past, been seen as designed for 18-24-year olds, and in years gone by that was often the norm. In 2019 however, apprenticeships have grown in their appeal; particularly with the introduction of the Apprenticeships Levy. Now, organisations are actively looking to further the development of their workforce and older employees are embracing the personal and skills development that apprenticeships offer. To get the low-down on the change of perception of apprenticeships, we spoke with Apprenticeship Coach Lucy Jones.
“The perception many people have had of apprenticeships was that you either carried on with education after school and went to university or you went on to be an apprentice in a trade as a bricklayer or a plumber for example; but now we know that everyone has the capacity to learn in different ways. Every organisation needs to either up-skill the people they have within their organisation or take on apprentices – regardless of age.”
Over the last two years we have seen a shift in how apprenticeships are sought out and funded. The introduction of the Apprenticeships Levy has meant that not only are organisations more inclined to point employees towards further development, they are actively encouraged to do so, so as not to lose money they have already put into the pot. After two years, the capital intended for apprentices is lost.
“The biggest hurdle that people over 24 face when doing an apprenticeship from what I have found, is simply telling people that they are doing an apprenticeship because they think people will assume that they aren’t on a fair wage – because that is how it used to be. But to do an apprenticeship you are essentially saying I want to learn more – it shows willing and care for your job and progression.”
With an apprenticeship, age is often an advantage. With age comes an understanding that advancing one’s knowledge is beneficial. Experience of working environments and work-based social interaction is also advantageous and of course, being aware that there is always more to learn can help you to embrace learning new skills.
“Being in a job role for twenty years, some people think they’ve learned everything there is to know. When they do an apprenticeship and they learn new ways of doing their job they embrace the idea of learning new things.”
One thing many people are wary of concerning certified apprenticeships when already in work is the specific time allocated for off-the-job training. Which sounds like time would either be taken from your paid job, losing you money, or extra time added on top of the regular day-to-day workings – and who these days has much extra time to spare?
“With the 20 percent off-the-job hours required for an apprenticeship people usually show some concern. That requirement however doesn’t mean time taken off from work. To complete your off-the-job hours, it means doing things like shadow your manager for three hours, learn about their job role or if someone explains something new to you and it takes 20 minutes, that is 20 minutes off-the-job because you wouldn’t be learning that without the apprenticeship. It’s all about logging the learning hours. What learners will find as they’re going through it is that they’ll do them a lot faster than they’ll realise.”
The ways in which apprenticeships are sought, funded and seen are now very different to how they were in the past. The funding is there, organisations are actively seeking out apprentices now and those taking part in the programmes are more mature than before. The content itself has also changed, apprenticeships are now not just vocational, with soft skills such as leadership and management now becoming more prevalent amongst current employees.
The old stigma attached to the idea of an apprentice is gone, or at least moving along as we become more aware that advancing one’s skills through pre-paid apprenticeships is the new normal.
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