Home » Apprenticeships » Why employers should tap into the power of apprenticeships

Anne Ashworth

Head of Employee Apprenticeships, Pearson

Zaki Rizvi

ICT Level 3 Apprentice, Pearson

Apprenticeships offer employees first-class on the job training, while giving employers access to a diverse and skilled talent pool which exactly reflects their needs.

After finishing his A Levels, Zaki Rizvi opted out of going to university and took a job as an estate agent. “I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do,” he says. “Because, honestly, at that age I had no clue.”

But, in October 2021, Zaki was the given the opportunity to enroll on an ICT Level 3 Apprenticeship at digital learning specialist Pearson, and now provides first line IT support for users of audio-visual equipment and technology at the company’s Head Office.

It was a big career switch, he admits, but one that offered him the chance to acquire new skills and knowledge — and an attractive salary. “I could continue earning while I was learning and get a qualification,” he says. Apart from the intensive hands-on training he receives at Pearson with his coaches and mentors, Zaki, now 23, attends technical education workshops on block release.

Yet what’s really remarkable is that Zaki had limited ICT experience before becoming an apprentice. “I’ve learned so much in a short timescale,” he says. “And the responsibility I’ve been given is massive.” Luckily, he’s always curious to learn new things and thrives on challenge.

The value of apprenticeships for employers

Zaki is a great example of the power of apprenticeships, says Anne Ashworth, Head of Employee Apprenticeships at Pearson. And because these courses offer individuals a chance to reskill, upskill, or change skill, it means they’re a big boon for employers, too.

“We’ve been involved in apprenticeship delivery for our own staff for around 20 years,” says Anne. “That’s because we know they’re a fantastic development tool for people of all educational backgrounds.

As an apprentice, I get the chance to put what I’ve learned immediately into practice.

Zaki Rizvi

“An apprenticeship is also a fantastic entry point for people who are returning to work, or wanting to progress at work, or who are seeking a career change, so we have a very diverse pool of apprentices.” The company is also investigating ways to get involved with the Government’s new prisoner apprenticeship initiative.

Because companies can take part in developing Apprenticeship Standards, today’s courses can be truly reflective of employers’ needs, notes Anne. They also formalise the structure of an organisation’s learning and development activities and help with workforce planning and staff retention issues. “When you’ve trained someone to that standard, you want to hang onto them,” says Anne. “We’re certainly seeing apprentices being promoted quickly within our business.”

Ensuring companies offer high quality apprenticeships

Employers should carry out due diligence to ensure that any external apprenticeship provider is on the Education and Skills Funding Agency’s approved register and able to deliver courses of the highest quality. “We operate a solid procurement process,” says Anne. “Once chosen, our providers undergo a robust performance review process.” Good collaboration is all about constant communication, she insists.

Zaki’s apprenticeship has helped him view education and development in a new light. At school, he never understood the real-world relevance of many subjects he was taught. “But, as an apprentice, I get the chance to put what I’ve learned immediately into practice,” he says. “As result, I can clearly see my skills growing.”

When Zaki finishes his apprenticeship next year, he’ll assess his career progression options. So far, though, it’s been a revelation. “I have to admit that an apprenticeship was never something I considered until it fell into my lap,” he says. “But if you’re uncertain of the best career path to take — for whatever reason — it’s the perfect answer to the question: ‘What do I do next?’”

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