Why hiring an apprentice could be the best thing you ever do

I’ll be honest, when I was growing up there weren’t apprenticeships for anything in the marketing field. Apprenticeships were for manual trades, and something people did instead of A Levels. Until a former employee applied for her role having completed a Digital Marketing apprenticeship, I didn’t know they existed. Although Golden Frog was her first role since her apprenticeship, and she didn’t have a degree or any other work experience, I could see from the moment I interviewed her that she was switched on, and knew exactly what she was talking about. 

Personally, I took the academic route into my role, I did a degree and then a postgraduate diploma in Public Relations. In total six years of academia. Now about to show my age, I am lucky that my degree wasn’t at a time when we came out tens of thousands in debt due to tuition fees, and I was also very fortunate that my employer funded my diploma as part of my CPD (thanks Cranfield University). 

Nowadays, I would consider six years of academia in digital marketing, or any marketing for that matter, a pointless waste of time and money. Facts and strategies that were learnt in the first term would have the potential to be outdated by the end of the first year. Give another five years, and all that’s happened is a huge waste of time, and an enormous debt build up.

When our lovely former apprentice decided to move on, it seemed to me a no-brainer to look into the possibility of hiring an apprentice ourselves, and so we started the process. We went with VQ Solutions through a recommendation. I was absolutely bowled over by the level of interest in the role (we had hundreds of applicants), and when I met Lucy I knew she would be absolutely right for the job. 

I’m a firm believer in being able to teach skills, and hiring on the basis of attitude. Lucy had bounds of enthusiasm, and a sunny disposition that I could see fitting into our team immediately. 

As part of the apprenticeship, Lucy undertakes a day a week (or 20% of her time) of applied study. The study she does is supplemented by assignments which reflect the day to day work within our company. She has access to tools and resources that we don’t, and every bit of her learning is relevant now, and able to be immediately applied. I firmly believe in empowering my team to work to their strengths. Through a combination of this, and the ongoing support of VQ Solutions, Lucy will complete her apprenticeship with a full understanding of the role she wants to play in a digital marketing agency, as well as having earnt throughout, not accruing the tens of thousands of pounds of debt that she might have gathered during a degree. 

In addition to bringing on an apprentice, I have been able to bring one of my existing team into a mentoring role, something which has been a boost to his confidence as well. We’ve never looked back, and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the apprentice route to other agencies, or candidates. 

Here’s what the team said about hiring an Apprentice: 

Why be an Apprentice: 

  • Given time to learn which can be put straight away into practice 
  • Surrounded by tutors with excellent experience helping to develop my skills 
  • Learning from a range of talented co-workers providing time to share their expertise 
  • Provided with the opportunity to learn all roles within a digital marketing agency rather than being pigeon holed into a role  
  • Time is key – to understand, digest and learn which is beneficial to the company when I put this into practice 

 

The benefits of having a Mentor | Apprentice View: 

  • Being involved not told is the best way to learn 
  • Constant guide to improvement 
  • Encouragement and support to keep learning and understanding 
  • A sounding board who I can bounce ideas off (constantly) 
  • A trusted advisor who always listens 
  • Teacher and connector between myself and the surrounding team 
  • Providing his experience to prevent me from making beginners mistakes 
  • Priceless  no question is ever too silly, no task is ever overwhelming and nothing is ever a chore when it comes to helping me 

 

The benefits of having an Apprentice Mentor view: 

  • Having a helping hand with tasks 
  • Hearing someone’s enthusiasm and eagerness to learn about marketing  
  • Getting second opinions on jobs completed (two heads are better than 1) 
  • Hearing a fresh perspective on the day to day jobs