National Apprenticeship Week 2023: Gaining skills for life
It’s finally National Apprenticeship Week and here at Reason Digital, we have our very own ‘digital marketing’ apprentice to talk through his current experience as an apprentice and the reasons for his chosen path. Calum has been with us for a month now and has settled into the team with ease, contributing to many tasks and putting forward his own ideas for future projects to propel RD’s own digital marketing aspirations.
Opportunity for Partnerships
We can see that apprenticeships are becoming increasingly popular among young people and for good reason. For example, the Government reports that ‘Higher apprenticeships continue to grow in 2022/23. Higher apprenticeship starts increased by 10.0% to 42,060 compared to 38,230 in the same period last year’. As a company dedicated to onboarding passionate and opportunistic individuals, we have a heavy focus on collaborating with higher institutions to recruit the very best, namely, The Manchester Metropolitan University. Our long-standing relationship has meant us taking on 5 apprentices over the last few years, in areas, such as marketing and development. This National Apprenticeship Week, we introduce our newest digital marketing apprentice: Calum.
“I have always felt like I should be learning through experience to really gain an appetite for working in real-life conditions. Going straight to university after college to study a bachelor’s degree didn’t give me the satisfaction of personal development, there was too much focus on learning through online material, whereas I wanted to apply that knowledge to actual tasks and see that I can be a competent member of a team.
I decided to withdraw from university and take the time to re-evaluate my future when I stumbled across a preliminary ‘digital’ course that I completed. This opened the doorway to a Level 3 apprenticeship at Age UK Stockport, followed by working at an eCommerce agency, PushON Ltd, for my Degree Apprenticeship. With the uncertain climate in the eCommerce industry, I had to find another place to continue my degree apprenticeship. To my good fortune, I found Reason Digital – it was the perfect fit! I’ve integrated myself into a team of like-minded individuals and have been made to feel so welcome. This is one of the significant benefits of being an apprentice and being placed at a company that you resonate with and has a great working culture, you feel very comfortable and able to express yourself. I am now heavily involved in marketing decisions and frequently get delegated tasks as though I have been working here for years. The responsibility within the role is just what I need to get me on the way to being a fully qualified Digital Marketer.”
Skills for Life
This year, #NationalApprenticeshipWeek’s topic is ‘Skills for Life’, below are a few that will stick with Calum and any other apprentices.
- Being an apprentice provides you with the ability to lay the foundations for striving towards a successful career. Knowing that you’re working alongside fully qualified colleagues who have garnered an array of skills over their own careers will mean that you have the expert knowledge to develop and propel yourself in your own career.
- The chance to gain practical skills in a workplace and develop as a real working employee at a company is too good of an opportunity to miss, not to mention the satisfaction of not getting into extreme debt through a standard university degree.
- Expanding current knowledge e.g.: not only degree apprenticeships exist, but if your employees want to expand their skills and knowledge they can enrol on to an apprenticeship to gain new skills (while being fully employed).
What is your own personal experience as an apprentice?
“Having first gone down the usual university path after college, I quickly realised that purely studying was not practical enough for me and did not provide me with the first-hand experience of what it’s like to work in an environment that I would expect to be working at in the near future.
University was also not fulfilling enough for me and was too similar to the way in which college studies are taught – I wanted a more diversified way of learning. With a Degree Apprenticeship, I have the luxury of having access to leading lecturers who have refined knowledge in their fields and have produced accredited work as well as working with qualified individuals that can share their own expert knowledge through actual experience in their roles. This is massively beneficial as I can apply what I have learnt in real-life situations that have actual consequences on business decisions. It helps better with critical thinking, and being more decisive, boosts collaborative skills, and prepares you for the future.
Also, being paid as an apprentice is a great incentive. You don’t have to worry as much about potential debt and have a high morale knowing that you’re being paid to fulfil your role and responsibilities, it’s rewarding. You become much more aligned with the values of the company you work for, creating a sense of ownership that you will need to be an employee.”
Have you become accustomed to the working environment and how is this different from general studying?
“As an apprentice, I have experienced what it is like to become part of a working team, a team that not only has individual responsibilities, but also collective responsibilities. It makes you more focused on the job at hand, knowing that you’re like a ‘mechanical cog’ who’s contributions will have an impact on the end result of a project. It is important to be able to work as a team and this is the first skill that was presented to me as having a prioritised hierarchical importance amongst other skills. This is because there needs to be a culture where people can provide constructive criticism for development, but also transparency on discussing problems and creating solutions. This cannot be done without a collective approach and so I have adapted myself to be a good ‘cog’ in the team.
Studying for me can seem very repetitive and doesn’t provide me with the joy of what I’m doing. I have always preferred a more direct approach of being involved in something practical where I can apply knowledge, and this is why I prefer the balance of studying and working.”
Having an apprentice has been fantastic so far. Calum brings a fresh and young perspective to Reason Digital. He is full of ideas, and he truly embodies Reason’s values and mission. If you are thinking about hiring an apprentice, I’d highly recommend it!
Becoming an apprenticeship means doing university work while being employed full time so those who choose the apprenticeship route have clear determination and passion for their chosen field of work.
Can anyone become an apprentice?
“The good thing about apprenticeships is the availability of them. There is much more government funding and so many more programmes have become available for an assortment of types of apprenticeships. There is a lot of information that can be accessed to look into apprenticeships and how they could be for you and one of them can be found on the Government’s website.”
Apprenticeships – are they for you?
To any employer considering hiring an apprentice – do it! We can’t overstate the value an apprentice could bring to your team. It keeps you up to date with fresh thinking and new practices. The skills and ideas that our apprentices have brought to the table is is truly impressive.
And to anyone toying with the idea of getting an apprenticeship – go for it! As long as the company seems like a good fit for you, and you’re passionate about the subject you’ll be studying, it’s totally worth it.
Building real industry experience, learning from both academic lecturers and colleagues, coming out the other side with a bachelor’s degree, all while knowing your student debt isn’t racking up… sounds like a no-brainer to us.