NATIONAL APPRENTICESHIP WEEK: Using bespoke education to accelerate development

Posted on: 8th Feb 2022

Steph McNeil, Head of Education at Ignite Training, discusses the wider benefits of apprenticeships to individuals, businesses and the economy

Apprenticeships have undergone significant change since the first National Apprenticeship Week was celebrated back in 2007.

Single and multi-year vocational qualifications are now active across all sectors, helping individuals at different stages of their careers develop the essential skills, knowledge and behaviours required to thrive in the workplace.

Seeing people reach their full potential and fulfil careers in sectors that interest them is a real passion of mine. It’s why I recently joined the Ignite Training team as Head of Education where each day I witness the positive impact apprenticeships have on employers and employees.

How they help to upskill new and existing staff through bespoke education, on-the-job development and real-life scenarios which promote essential life skills including communication, teamwork and problem solving.

By working with apprentices and their tutors every day to provide the highest education standards, I can see how far apprenticeships have come since the Ignite group was established in 1999.

But still, some stereotypes remain. And it’s important we use National Apprenticeship Week to banish these assumptions, so every person understands the potential and opportunity of combining paid work with studies.

The biggest assumption is age, and that apprenticeships are only suitable for fresh-out-of-school teenagers. Increasingly, vocational qualifications are attracting people from various backgrounds and sectors – all of whom at different stages of their careers.

The latest Government statistics show 47% of apprenticeships started in 2019-20 were by people aged 25 and over, underlining how they support people of all ages.

It’s not uncommon to connect with people who are unaware of the scale of apprenticeships now available.

These days, apprenticeships help individuals to fulfil careers in the business, creative and design, digital, education, health and science, marketing and legal sectors – the list goes on. They also serve as a proven educational pathway for learners to further their studies at university or continue with their development by enrolling onto the next programme.

What apprenticeships offer which other learning platforms struggle to achieve is they place the learner at the very heart of the qualification.

This is achieved by providing a bespoke education and on-the-job development platform so learners can progress their skills at a pace which is comfortable for them in an environment where they aspire to fulfil a career in.

No two apprenticeships are the same, nor are two apprentices. Tutors can treat learners as individuals which is exactly what teaching should be – being able to communicate, listen and adapt sessions to help people reach their full potential.

Encouragingly, these messages are starting to be heard and at Ignite Training we have experienced an exponential surge in demand for our apprenticeship provisions.

It’s led to the expansion of our programme portfolio to now accommodate learners aspiring to careers in coaching, teaching, marketing and content production from Level 2 Intermediate to Level 5 Higher. We’re not just working locally either, but with schools, coaching organisations, professional sports clubs, the NHS, councils, charities and gyms on a national scale.

Why? Because apprenticeships serve a purpose to employers too with 78% of organisations stating that hiring an apprentice has helped to increase productivity.

My daughter is progressing personally and professionally like never before and I can only put that down to one thing. Her apprenticeship. She’s ambitious, keen, talented and wants to succeed in life – all key qualities employers crave.

As a family, we are fully immersed in the power of vocational qualifications as my son is completing an apprenticeship with Airbus as an Engineer in Aeronautics. The hands-on on-the-job experience he is getting simply cannot be replicated.

I truly believe the way we view work and training has been revolutionised by the COVID-19 pandemic. Events of the past two years have allowed people to put the brakes on and really assess their lives and what they want to achieve from it.

During that first lockdown, all that mattered was the good health of our family, friends, neighbours and other close relations. It put everything into perspective, and inspired people to take that chance.

When you reach a certain point in life, it might not appear so easy to simply change careers or learn a new skill. But, every day, people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and older are proving how apprenticeships are being used to facilitate positive change to careers and – ultimately – livelihoods.

Constant development is now part of the working world with new technologies and systems being embraced. It’s our ambition to create new leaders through proven methods of education and help businesses develop a skilled workforce for the future.

2022 should be the year of the apprentice – and we are well-placed to help you bring in new ideas and energy to your organisation through the power of vocational qualifications.

About Ignite Training

Established in 1999, Ignite’s primary aim is to actively inspire people, and to help create a sense of achievement for everyone. Based in Oxford and operating nationally, we provide a portfolio of training and services to individuals, schools and the sports industry, ranging from weekly clubs for tots to adult courses and apprenticeships.

About Ignite Training