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Busting event apprentice myths

Richard John, COO of Realise, debunks the common misconceptions around apprenticeships.

After 4 years as a deliverer of an event apprenticeship programme, I thought it was worth dealing with a few of the most common misconceptions around apprenticeships.

1. My business only needs graduates

Maybe, but did you know that 1 in 4 of our event apprentices already have a first degree? But perhaps also have a rethink; event management degrees can be great, but wouldn’t you like people with all the right practical skills in place?

2. We take interns, and that’s the same thing

No, not in any way whatsoever. Apprentices are no different to your proper, full-time employees except they are on a structured training programme with a recognised qualification at the end. They blend our training with real-world experience from all the support you provide. And they are far more likely to stay with you; how often do you find your interns or placements just starting to add value and then walking out of the door?

3. Apprentices are for young people – we are looking for maturity

Whilst apprenticeships start at 16, we recommend event apprentices are at least 18. However, under the new rules, you can be an apprentice at any age; we have some in their 30s. Besides, your organisation might benefit from some of the insights of the young. After all, they are the ones with long careers ahead of them.

4. Aren’t apprentices only for people who can’t get into university?

Well, we have already pointed out that many of our apprentices have already been to university. And not everyone wants to spend three years of their life just sitting in lectures whilst racking up massive debt. Many people prefer a blended approach of learning on the job – and ‘earn while you learn’ can be far more appealing.

5. Okay, but apprenticeships are for new staff, and I’m not hiring at the moment

 Actually, you can take an existing member of your team and make them an apprentice. Nothing else need change, but they, and you, will benefit from the training and development. And, depending on your organisation, most or all of the training costs are paid by the Government.

6. I’m not sure if I have the funds for the training

Not only is the training element paid for by the Government, but there’s also a process whereby companies can move their apprenticeship levy funds (the pot that pays for the training) down their supply chain. At the moment, the Government is offering employers £3,000 for every apprentice they take on, so there’s never been a better time.

7. My company is too small

Unlikely; we have companies of three people whose fourth employee is an apprentice, and who has quickly become an indispensable member of the team. No, don’t let that stop you.

8. I’d rather take trained staff

Apprentices often have the right combination of skills and attitude to hit the ground running, and it’s up to you to make the right choice. However, do you want to employ someone with learned bad habits elsewhere, or would you rather have some bright person who you can train the way you want them to work?

9. I buy in people resources as I need them

You are not alone; it’s often the way the events sector works. That’s fine in the short term, but if you want to grow a strong and sustainable business, investing in people is imperative, and apprenticeships are the perfect answer. Research shows that apprentices are generally far more loyal to the organisation, saving you the cost of yet another new starter.

10. I’d prefer to take on sales people

Sales skills are important, and we can direct you to sales apprentices if you prefer. However, if you are an events company, developing event managers might be more important. Nevertheless, we know sales skills are important for everyone, so the Realise approach is to include sales training in our apprenticeship learning journey, which not all providers can offer.

11. It’s expensive to take on an apprentice

The apprentice levy pays for the training. And apprentices are statistically far more loyal to their employers. That’s why 30% of companies who’ve had a Realise apprentice have come back for another one. Moreover – unlike your standard new recruit – your apprentice has the support of a Realise business coach for the duration of the programme included at no extra cost

12. I don’t have time to babysit new staff

Well, this is going to seem harsh, but if you don’t see developing people for the future and growing new talent as an integral part of your role as a manager and leader, then you are probably not the kind of person we’d want to talk to. We will, however, wish you luck in your continued fight for survival.