March 11 sees the start of National Apprenticeship week 2013. So, in the next few days and weeks you’ll be hearing a lot about them. However, why are they so good? Why should your organisation take on an apprentice?
Even now the word ‘apprentice’ can conjure up images of young people doing menial and hands-on work. With all this talk about apprentices in the news perhaps we can overlook what exactly an apprentice is - and that it can take many different forms.
In essence, an apprenticeship is a combination of both paid work and training (usually, as in my case, an NVQ). Through ‘learning on the job’, an apprentice can gain valuable experiences that look fantastic on their CV. And I can testify to this.
I am currently a Social Media and Communications Apprentice at Nottingham Community and Voluntary Service (NCVS). There are currently four apprentices at NCVS, and we all get on well. We all have different ambitions for the future and different ideas about how we’ll use our apprenticeship in the future. However, what binds us all together is that we all are thoroughly enjoying working in the voluntary and community sector.
We are, of course, gaining valuable experience of working in an office environment. Even for a temporary job, ‘must have a year of working in an office [environment]’ is often classified as ‘essential’, so on that score alone our work here is important.
However, it goes way beyond that. As opposed to big-business or an unpaid internship down in London, our apprenticeships give us a chance to work in a friendly, local environment. The voluntary sector is a welcoming and open, which suits me well because I feel comfortable and supported by every member of staff.
Apprenticeships are widely encouraged from all sides of the political spectrum. The coalition government has committed to increasing the number of Apprenticeship places available, and has increased funding to encourage people to take them up. Labour is also promoting apprenticeships through the local councils they run.
The overwhelming evidence suggests that apprenticeships work – they do result in increased employment chances. Not only for the apprentices like me, but for the employers like NCVS. Research shows that the experience is a positive one for the vast majority of employers.
Apprenticeships have a real potential to provide exciting new routes into the voluntary sector for people who currently don’t traditionally think of a career in it – I never imagined I’d end up doing communications for an organisation like NCVS, but in no way have I ever looked back!