Three tips to make your apprenticeship scheme award-winning

21 May 2018 -

Apprenticeship schemeEntries are open for the National Apprenticeship Awards. Here’s what the judges look out for

Guest blogger Keith Smith

The National Apprenticeship Awards are the largest and most prestigious celebration of apprentices and apprentice employers across the country. With entries for this year’s awards now open, here are three ways you can make your apprenticeship programme award winning.

1. Must be good for business

Employers take on apprentices for many reasons. But to stand out, you’ve got to show how apprenticeships are helping you meet your organisational goals, be it, skilling up your workforce, improving retention or diversifying your team. Take Dorset-based salon Beauty Oasis Spa, last year’s Small Employer of the Year, as an example. To secure victory, they clearly demonstrated how apprenticeships had helped to transform its success by providing greater skills capacity to help the business expand. Show how apprenticeships play a role in your long-term organisational strategy and communicate this evidence in a range of ways.

In 2008, Beauty Oasis Spa owner Sarah Hallaran was struggling to recruit the right employees to meet her business needs. This inspired the business’s first apprentice hire. “I spoke to my local college about how hard it was recruiting the right people. They suggested I get involved in training them myself, so that’s exactly what I did,” Sarah explains. “We started by offering a small number of Level 2 and Level 3 Beauty Therapy Apprenticeships, and momentum grew from there.” Ten years on and apprentices have transformed the business’s success. It now hires between seven and ten apprentices and trainees each year.

2. Go above and beyond

Equally, you should show how you’re making a positive impact on the lives of your apprentices – not just professionally but personally too. You’ll need to demonstrate how your support goes beyond the basic requirements of training and mentoring. Some large consultancies offer well-being coaches, to ensure their apprentices are able the strike a good work-life balance. Think about what makes your apprenticeship programme unlike any other and how you can give your apprentices a voice in shaping your programme.

Beauty Oasis Spa is now busy making plans to expand its apprenticeship offering yet further. “We want to create even more opportunities for young people and raise standards within the beauty industry,” Sarah says.

3. Be part of the wider apprenticeship community

It’s important to demonstrate that your enthusiasm for apprenticeships goes beyond your organisation. You need to show that you’re playing an active role in promoting apprenticeships to wider communities, whether to your sector or to prospective apprentices in your local region. An example could include workshops or talks in local schools or collaborating with other organisations to develop further apprenticeships standards for your sector. And if you can show others’ praise for your work, then that’s certainly an added bonus.

“We’d like to take on more salons, expand our head office and become a training centre of excellence that is recognised as best-in-class across the industry,” says Sarah Hallaran.

Keith Smith is director of Apprenticeships Group. Apply now for the National Apprenticeship Awards 2018 at Entries close on 25 May. To find out more about degree apprenticeships and how CMI can help, click here for the full guide to CMI Leadership and Management Apprenticeships

Image: Shutterstock

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