Graduate Apprentices are redefining recruitment and hiring practices across the whole of Industry, in the UK.
Over the last ten years a steady momentum has been building up, of appointing Graduate Apprentices as a more creditable alternative to new Graduates from University, with a freshly minted degree, but no workplace experience.
The value of qualifications combined with experience is inestimable. After all, that is exactly what Employers are looking for.
With the disruptive influence of new and emerging technologies the pace and efficiency of business activity has increased beyond anything that could have been imagined, ten to twenty years ago.
Businesses are now realising, that to stay in the race, they have to embrace that change, or risk being left behind, by increasingly capable workforces in competitor Organisations.
Employers are increasingly acknowledging the standard and eminence of new Apprenticeship qualifications, and their relevance to business and industry.
Having a qualification and knowing something, is simply not enough today, without the proven ability to demonstrate its application, in practice. Nothing becomes real until it is experienced. Some things cannot be taught, they must be experienced.
Industry Recognised Qualification
If you were an Employer, given the choice between two Candidates, one with an Industry recognised qualification, and a few years of hands-on experience, and the other with excellent qualifications, but no “real world” training – who would you choose?
The truth of the matter is, that it is not so much about education v experience, but education, AND experience. They are not mutually exclusive, but actually go hand in hand in charting out a person’s value and potential to make the cut.
Employers are interested in acquiring talented Candidates with a demonstrated ability, and they look for a complete package.
Graduate Apprentices represent that complete package.
The Rise and Rise of Apprenticeship Currency
The introduction of Modern Apprenticeships 25yrs ago, was the catalyst that forever changed the ideology and dynamics of Apprenticeships.
Previous to this, Apprenticeships were seen as a means of young people, (mostly males) receiving formal training in a craft, (ie acquiring skills in making things by hand) or trade (ie a job requiring manual skills and special training).
They were disassociated from any educational curricula, and Apprentices were not involved in any educational programme, at the same time. Even if they were, there was no relation between the undergoing studies, and the apprenticeship.
Technological progress over the last half century, has had a defining influence on how businesses function.
Economic output has been significantly expanded, and productivity improved, allowing more output to be produced with the same resources, and enabling further innovation and development.
Current technological progress has led to a higher relative demand for skilled workers, and a lower relative demand for workers performing routine activities.
This has not only changed the fundamental principles of Apprenticeships, but also the compelling need for businesses to train existing staff and engage new staff with the necessary knowledge and skills to meet the new requirements of a high performing Company.
How businesses operate has shifted into a new dimension. To remain even viable, there has to be a corresponding shift in how Organisations are staffed and managed.
The traditional staffing model of making appointments, heavily weighted towards those with the most attractive paper qualifications, regardless of previous experience, is no longer an option.
In the “pre technology age” it was possible for staff to learn by doing, after appointment, without any discernible knock on effect to the Organisation. There was time to do this.
Not so now.
Hands On Experience
In today’s technological age, there are two equally important prerequisites for successful new appointments, ie academic knowledge, combined with practical experience. One without the other reduces effective performance, significantly.
The changing world of employment has not been lost on the new generation of workers. Recent years has seen a steady change in perception of how best to position themselves and get on the work ladder.
Since the cost of Higher Education has risen, many people are now thinking twice about heading off to Uni; favouring workplace learning and experience!
Many Employers are increasingly of the opinion that new Graduates simply aren’t ready for the workplace and lack that key experience.
Anne Milton MP, Minister of State for Skills & Apprenticeships, from 2017, until her resignation in July 2019, commented in a recent article in The Telegraph, that many Employers have been reducing their traditional purist Graduate programmes, and in some cases axing them completely.
She told how business leaders are constantly remarking about people coming out of university, saying that;
“their degree was not relevant to the workplace and so it can take 18 months to two years to get them “up to speed”.
She commented further that:
“Businesses have said for a long time, ‘it’s all very well you churning out these academic graduates but we need skills’ – a degree isn’t necessarily transferable into the workplace.”
A Graduate Apprentice, for an Employer is a person who has a proven academic record, has mastered complex subject matter, has the ability to think analytically and logically, and has been exposed to a stimulating working environment. Someone who has demonstrated the potential to rise up the ranks and can be trusted with more responsible roles.
They bring to the table everything they’ve learned and apply their knowledge and skills to solving real-world work problems.
Calibre of Apprenticeship Qualifications
What has happened, to change the perception of Apprenticeship qualifications?
“Modern Apprenticeships” were launched in 1994 and offered the opportunity to work towards a National Vocational Qualification. Since that time the standard of qualifications have been systematically reviewed, expanded and developed in line with needs and requirements of modern business.
In 2017/18, new Apprenticeship Standards were introduced. These were Apprenticeship courses, designed by specially selected, Employer led working Groups spread throughout the country.
Membership of each group comprised a minimum of 10 Employers from a representative cross section of their particular business sectors and supported by academics, researchers, and workplace practitioners, Trainers, and Awarding Bodies.
Professional Bodies were also involved, to help ensure routes to professional registration in occupations where these are available. It also meant they could be involved in the development of Standards.
These groups fed their findings and recommendations through to a central committee, which collated all the information, analysed it and formulated the course designs.
The rigour and caliber of the resultant Apprenticeship Qualifications can be summed up in the impressive curricula statistics:
- 4500 hours of work-based experience (average)
- 600 hours of Project work completed (average)
- 40 hours of Assessment and Tests by Awarding Bodies (average)
Graduate Apprentices Create Momentum
Currently, 147 new Standards have been approved for delivery, with an additional 177 in development. There could be as many as 1600 Standards by 2022.
Graduate Apprentices can bring first class knowledge and insight to your Organisation, through their exacting study and workplace training.
Being employer-led means the focus is on the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to ensure everything learned by the Apprentice will benefit the learner, employer, sector and ultimately the economy as a whole.
Employers are now at the forefront of the development of Apprenticeship learning curricula.
This is what gives legitimacy and credibility to the new training Standards.
Apprenticeships now carry the unequivocal endorsement of Employers as THE qualification of choice for businesses, large or small.
There is nothing more powerful for Employers’ confidence in engaging Apprentices, than the authority of endorsement by their own Peer Group.
Also, there are no other comparative qualifications which are so specific in content and design and which carry such stature across the whole spectrum of the business community.
In addition, there can be little doubt that future business success will be inextricably linked to harnessing the top talent pool of Graduate Apprentices.
Graduate Apprentices create momentum. Companies that achieve success, have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed.
The difference between where your Company is, and where you want it to be, is what you do.
Businesses do not prosper by chance; they prosper by active change.