Over recent years, higher education seems to have been pushed and encouraged as the only route available to school leavers at the ages of 16 or 18. Students who may have been more suited to internships or apprenticeships have been pressured into following the majority, and wrongly believing that university is their only option. We all know this is not the case and things are changing to prove it. Apprenticeships and internships are now being encouraged by the government and educators alike. As an apprentice myself, I completely support apprenticeships as a tangible way to learn and develop into a full-time role. You don’t have to be 16 or 18 either; I was 23 when I started my digital apprenticeship at drp.
So, why take an apprenticeship?
Whilst working at drp as an apprentice, I have learned more about myself and what I can really excel at than I would have done in education. My knowledge of digital products has grown substantially, which has given me the confidence to talk about digital (the business) with people who may only have a basic understanding of digital in the corporate world. Also, being part of drp means I can learn every day from professionals, which I don’t take for granted. I have been learning ‘on the job’ ever since I started and I am being paid to learn and gain qualifications – no student debt for me!
I have had plenty of responsibility from day one and this has grown and developed as time has gone on. I work with some great clients and I work very closely with a department in Worcester Bosch that is dedicated to all of the accredited installers. I also work with T H White on digital projects and maintenance. Being a support for the digital events team gives me the opportunity to work on a lot of events and conferences for some well-known, ‘household name’ clients. These clients are really proactive when it comes to digital and to hear their positive feedback after an event is incredible.
I am constantly developing and learning on the spot, which is 100% valuable to my role (no pointless lecture slides for me). My role currently involves supporting the entire digital team. I work very closely with the project managers to help with maintenance management and help to remove stress from large projects. I also work in the digital events team, which means I am onsite for nearly every event drp creates, so long as it includes a digital aspect. More and more clients require digital products for their events and being a part of that is amazing. It allows me to use my customer service skills a lot more than if I was always in the office.
One thing that Ben, Director of drpdigital, said to me when he offered me a full-time position at drpreally echoes what it’s all about: “I am not offering you a job, I am offering you the opportunity for a career”. I feel this really shows how drp think as a business and it made the challenges of the past year worth it.
"Whilst working at drp as an apprentice, I have learned more about myself and what I can really excel at than I would have done in education."
How are businesses, educators and the government helping?
The government is driving apprenticeships U.K.-wide and aim to have trained three million new apprentices by 2020. The Department for Education (DfE) has recently announced how the ‘Apprenticeship Levy’ will work. Starting in April 2017, the levy will require employers to invest in apprenticeships, with the size of the investment dependent on the size of the business. Employers with an annual pay bill of more than £3 million will be required to spend 0.5 per cent of the total on the levy.
It’s really exciting that businesses across the country are going to be a part of the movement. However, I have been fortunate with drp as they have been investing in apprenticeships, internships, and work experience for a number of years. drp started their apprenticeship scheme four years ago and since then have had a total of 11 apprentices. 80% of drp’s apprentices have stayed on in employment after completing their schemes. Three of our board members started as work experience candidates at 16 years old, and over 20 years later they’re still with the company.
I think one thing I find exciting currently is the future I have got at drp. I don’t see myself working anywhere else. I work in a great team that are achieving some incredible things so why would I want to leave? So, is it time for you to also invest in young apprentices?
By Joel Onions - Digital Event Technician