Industry urged to apply more strategic thinking to apprenticeships

apprentices report - dma

Workplace apprenticeships need to be given more prominence and become part of the overall talent strategy in companies.

That’s according to a new report from the Data & Marketing Association’s (DMA) talent function, DMA Talent.

DMA Talent interviewed senior professionals across the data and marketing industry to learn more about their usage of apprenticeships, what was working well and what challenges they faced, and how industry bodies like the DMA can help.

Apprenticeships have talent

The ‘Apprenticeships: The Hidden Potential’ report revealed key insights into what is limiting apprenticeship uptake across the data and marketing industry, as well as the opportunities that they can bring to an organisation.

Key challenges highlighted by professionals include: Boardrooms being difficult to engage for programme development and funding; Organisations struggling to find training providers that are accredited for data and marketing apprenticeships; Confusion about what the apprenticeship levy can be used for.

“Apprenticeships need to become part of the overall talent strategy – driven by the boardroom so they become embedded into the DNA of a business”, said Kate Burnett, General Manager of DMA Talent.

“With more support and guidance for businesses, we can increase the number of apprentices across the industry. 

“But we must improve senior stakeholder buy-in, improve understanding of the apprenticeship levy and help organisations to discover accredited training providers,” 

Key benefits

The interviewees also revealed the key benefits of employing an apprentice. Many stated that apprenticeships made their talent acquisition more diverse, with the benefit of fresh perspectives from the young talent coming through from a variety of different backgrounds. 

“It was also highlighted that they help to develop a more capable workforce with specialist skills, as apprentices often learn educational theory while developing practical work experience.

Burnett added: “Apprenticeship programmes have the potential of making the talent within an organisation more skilled and diverse, which will help our industry become better representative of our customers and UK society. 

“In addition, a diverse talent pool will bring fresh perspectives to a business while helping them to support their local community.”

The report also reveals what assistance is needed to improve take-up, and what businesses, the government and industry bodies like the DMA can do to make apprenticeships more successful. 

It was clear that the structure of apprenticeships also needs to be reviewed to allow better balance between work and study time, and to also improve their flexibility.

Report findings inspire new partnership

DMA Talent is on a mission to increase the number of apprenticeship opportunities for young people in the data and marketing industry.

A key part of that is helping organisations to find the right training provider to deliver apprenticeship training. To this end, DMA Talent will partner with The JGA Group to deliver accredited apprenticeship training.

From March 2021, marketing apprentices will be able to access content from the Institute of Data & Marketing (IDM) as part of their training. 

This partnership will enable apprentices to enhance their ongoing professional development and gain access to additional industry qualifications.

Burnett said of the partnership: “Our research into apprenticeships discovered one of the main challenges limiting the uptake of apprenticeships was finding a good training provider. 

“JGA are specialists in marketing and communications apprenticeships, so we’re hoping the partnership can really start to drive up the number of apprenticeships in our industry across the UK.”

Matthew Housden, Chair of DM Trust, which supported the research, said: “The need to support the career aspirations of younger people has never been greater. 

“The DM Trust is committed to enabling programmes aimed at creating opportunities for all to join the data-driven marketing sector.

“The apprenticeship initiative at the DMA is a great example of this, creating opportunities for young people and developing and nurturing the skills base that will ensure our industry’s future.”