Learning and legacy – why apprenticeships play a key role in the future

Paper peeled back to reveal the word "apprenticeship"

Dominic Hare, CEO of Blenheim Palace, explains why apprenticeships and training are at the heart of everything that happens at the UNESCO World Heritage Site

We’re immensely proud of our apprenticeship scheme, which is a key part of our 10-year goal to train more than 100 apprentices by 2027. With National Apprenticeship Week 2024 (February 5-11), I’m delighted to say that we are right on track to hit that target in three years’ time.

There’s a myriad of benefits of running apprenticeship programmes – and not just for the apprentices themselves

According to the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), the national economy is estimated to gain almost £21 for every £1 invested in apprenticeships. The huge contribution to the local community that apprenticeships represent in terms of providing employment is just one more reason we are so committed to our apprenticeship goal.

Apprenticeships benefit the entire organisation

Here at Blenheim and Pye, we believe that, when joining a structured programme of learning, everyone needs support and encouragement and we provide exactly that. When people join us, they are not just joining a workforce, they are joining our family.

As many employers like us know, there’s a myriad of benefits of running apprenticeship programmes – and not just for the apprentices themselves.

For the young people themselves, we see five key reasons why they should consider an apprenticeship:

  • Apprenticeships provide great first steps in a career

  • They will become a more employable, skilled and confident person

  • The young person will receive on-going support with a mentoring scheme alongside your training

  • Apprentices will acquire recognised qualifications in a variety of subjects of their choosing

  • They will be able to gain practical experience

Yes, we are helping young, local people learn and develop skills and set them up for a blossoming career, but they are also injecting a new lease of life into the veteran staff who are being given the opportunity to teach their trades to a new generation.

The passing down of skills, principles and practices is a vital part of building not only a legacy which anyone can be proud of, but also a community which improves the quality of life for future residents.

Career start, development and change

Our apprenticeships range from entry level 2 all the way up to Level 7, which is equivalent to a master’s degree. Not only are we using our apprentice levy to develop young people, but are also using it to allow people to learn new skills in their current roles and for those to have a complete career change.

Across our various businesses, Palace, Estate and Property, we’ve already completed 49 apprenticeships since 2017, and currently have 38 apprentices on site, working in a range of departments and disciplines, including Built Heritage, Forestry, Events & Hospitality, Game, Finance, Security, and Construction.

This year, Blenheim Estate Homes and Pye Homes welcomed five new apprentices to the team, learning a range of trades from bricklaying to carpentry to plumbing. The young people will follow a 24-month Blenheim Estate apprenticeship program, which will not only equip them with valuable skills but hopefully lead to full-time employment with the Oxfordshire housebuilder.

At Blenheim Palace itself, one of our apprentices, Aimee Akinola, works in the Built Heritage team and will soon be a Construction Project Manager, working on all the restoration projects across the whole of the Blenheim Palace World Heritage Site.

She said: “For me, being an apprentice at Blenheim is a unique once in a lifetime type opportunity. From working with other apprentices across different parts of the business, to working in and around a World Heritage Site. Every day is different.

“After five years in uni (three on my BA and two on my MA) I wanted a career change, but I was also at an age where I needed to start getting some real-world experience under my belt. Rather than going back to university for another three years, I am able to learn on the job whilst putting it into practice on a daily basis. This style of learning suits me very well.”

Dominic Hare is CEO of Blenheim Palace

Dominic Hare

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