Changing the language of Apprenticeships

Genevieve Potter - 1st August 2019

The Wikipedia definition of an Apprenticeship is:

“A system of training a new generation of practitioners of a trade or profession with on-the-job training and often some accompanying study (classroom work and reading)”

Whilst it’s a neat definition, it’s the ‘new generation’ part of this sentence that leaps out to me as being slightly misleading.

Apprenticeships were reformed in May 2017, with the new world of Apprenticeship Standards being made available for Levy-paying employers (typically, businesses with over 200 employees and an annual salary bill of £3m or more).

It’s a case of ‘use it or lose it’ – with many employers having funds in their digital levy account that will disappear come April 2019.

What many of these employers don’t realise is that Apprenticeships can be used successfully as meaningful upskill development programmes for their existing people – we are running just such programmes within Bauer Media and for our external clients too. We offer Apprenticeship standards including content production, digital marketing, journalism and leadership, and I’m proud to report that we have some very senior, skilled and established people on our programmes, who are technically ‘Apprentices’.

This is a whole new world; for us as a Government-Approved Training Provider, and the employers that we work with, but one of biggest learnings has been that changing the language around Apprenticeship provision is immensely helpful.

A great example of this is the ‘20% off the job’ requirement for all Apprenticeship Standards. Instead, we’ve chosen to define this as ‘dedicated development time’ (DDT). 20% off the job is embedded in the old world of Apprenticeship frameworks, with Apprentices going off to college one day a week. The Bauer Academy’s take on DDT is a thoughtful mixture of learning interventions, for example monthly face to face workshops, regular time on our e-learning platform, self-guided learning, even mentoring or job swaps that help our learners develop and put their new skills in to practice. Of course, this DDT requires commitment from the learner themselves, and support and encouragement from the business and its leaders, to see that the benefit of a highly skilled and motivated workforce outweighs the short-term pain of people being given the time to learn during their normal working hours.

Words are powerful, and we believe that changing the terminology around Apprenticeship Standards in the context of a modern business leads to better buy-in, understanding, and ultimately, better outcomes for learners and businesses.

Genevieve Potter is the General Manager at The Bauer Academy.