Why apprenticeships are about developing future leaders – and not about making tea!

Eileen Girling gives TJ a personal view on National Apprenticeship Week.

Anyone who thinks that apprenticeships are all about finding a teenager to make the tea and ticking a compliance box in the process are due a wake-up call in 2018. As we celebrate National Apprenticeship Week the focus is instead on developing future leaders.

Of course, the reality is that companies have always valued apprentices – the line about the tea is rather tongue in cheek. But there may still be an assumption amongst some that they are all about raw 16-year-olds; a kind of upgraded internship system.

The truth is very different. In my experience apprenticeship schemes are rapidly becoming a valid alternative to university – a way of identifying and developing future leaders.

Often, the apprentices taken on these days have gained at least three Cs at A Level and will be looking for further career development. In fact, it’s quite possible in future that apprenticeship schemes could take people all the way through to MAs or doctorates, and that’s something I’d be very happy to see.

The Apprenticeship Levy also allows businesses to develop existing staff – for instance by offering team leader qualification courses or team leader courses.

In my own company, six apprentices have been taken on this year on two-year rotational positions across the business, working in project management as part of a new apprenticeship programme.

Additionally, by consulting with museum and gallery clients such as the Fitzwilliam Museum and the University of Cambridge, new industry standards for apprentices have been agreed in the art logistics sector. That’s really important because if you are going to be a trailblazer then it’s best to do so based on what your clients really need.

An example of how apprenticeships can work for a modern business includes the story of my colleague Lilley Deevey, who undertook an apprenticeship at AstraZeneca before joining as Apprenticeship & Recruitment Co-ordinator.

Since then her passion for the apprenticeship system has helped power up a whole new programme.

As well as helping to develop an apprenticeship scheme, Lilley also set up the London branch of the National Young Apprentice Ambassador Network, has spoken in the Houses of Parliament and recently hosted the National Apprentice Awards.

That’s what apprenticeship schemes should be about – spotting and developing young people with real potential and real leadership qualities.

I should also say that it is not only young people straight from school or Sixth Form College who benefit these days. The Apprenticeship Levy also allows businesses to develop existing staff – for instance by offering team leader qualification courses or team leader courses.

That’s really exciting and another example of how a greater focus on apprenticeship can benefit your business as a whole.

Time to put the kettle on?


About the author

Eileen Girling is regional HR director of Crown Worldwide


Learn More →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
Sign up for our weekly newsletter