No Image Available

Fay Gibbin

Busy Bees Training

Training Manager

Read more from Fay Gibbin

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

How to tackle apprenticeship snobbery


Training Manager Fay Gibbin currently oversees over 700 childcare, management and catering apprenticeships. Here, Fay offers her views on the value of apprenticeships and how to overcome the misconceptions surrounding vocational qualifications. 

During the General Election, the subject of apprenticeships and youth unemployment was a key topic, with party policies promising more support for those offering training programmes and positioning them as a platform for enhancing the growth of the country’s recovering economy. 

As university degree courses have become more readily available to all, there has been an increase in what former Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, called 'barely concealed snobbery' surrounding apprenticeships that has become ever more apparent in recent years. However, in the 2011/12 academic year 520,600 people started an apprenticeship, an increase of 13.9% on the preceding year and 86.1% since 2009/10, proving their popularity and value is on the rise.

Whilst it is still important to offer all young people the opportunity to attend university, encouraging them to undertake an apprenticeship is as equally important for both their future career prospects and, on a national level, economic growth. In March the Coalition government announced a 20% increase in wages for apprentices, as well as a promise to create three million more apprenticeships by the next election, and the introduction of the new apprenticeship levy. So, what can businesses do to help put an end to ‘apprenticeship snobbery’ and how can we inspire young people to consider an apprenticeship as an alternative, but no less credible, route to further education?

Revitalising your business

Apprenticeships offer ambitious young people reputable career prospects, adult learners the chance to undertake an exciting change in career and businesses the opportunity to develop a highly qualified workforce. Apprentices can bring with them a fresh, innovative outlook and open up opportunities that may have been previously overlooked. 

With the correct guidance and support, apprentices can become enthusiastic, dedicated individuals, who hold a company’s values and work ethic, and who have ‘hands-on’ experience of working within an industry. 

Rewarding success

By rewarding the success of apprentices, we help to recognise the value that they bring to businesses, widen their appeal to potential applicants and position them as a credible alternative to traditional classroom-based learning. 

One way of doing this is through graduation ceremonies, a similar style of event to traditional university graduations, which are becoming more commonplace amongst apprenticeship employers such as ourselves. By acknowledging the hard work and dedication displayed by our apprentices and celebrating their achievements, you promote the worth of the apprenticeship itself, not only to potential applicants but also to other businesses, thereby encouraging them to take on an apprentice of their own.

In return, businesses can develop a vibrant and dedicated workforce who not only aid in company growth, but grow with the company themselves. An ongoing personal development programme that extends beyond the completion of the apprenticeship through short courses, additional qualifications or a higher level apprenticeship ensures not only a continuously upskilled workforce but a happy one. By continuing to invest in an employee, the company is acknowledging the value they bring and laying the foundations for a loyal, longstanding workforce.

Lifelong learning

Upskilling an existing workforce is as important as hiring new recruits, and championing higher level apprenticeships ensures the long-term success of a training programme. In order to position these programmes as a genuine alternative to university, we should develop a career structure whereby the senior roles in each sector are not restricted to those who are only degree educated. 

As the government announces the scrapping of maintenance grants for university students, now more than ever young people will be looking for alternative routes into the workplace; one that offers vocational learning as well as academic development. In order to end ‘apprenticeship snobbery’, we need to do more to celebrate those who have chosen an alternative career development. Rather than wrongly assume that apprenticeships are for young people with fewer academic alternatives, as a society we should acknowledge and wholeheartedly welcome vocational study as a credible alternative to university education and as a way to continuously develop our experiences throughout our working life.

Fay Gibbin is training manager at Busy Bees Training

No Image Available
Fay Gibbin

Training Manager

Read more from Fay Gibbin

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.

Thank you!