Great Business Debate: If you were starting your career all over again today, would you consider becoming an apprentice instead of going on to higher education?
Tim: Yes I would. With the amount of focus on skills, particularly at a higher level, and more focus on business setting the standards that they want for their apprenticeship programmes if apprenticeships were around in the form they are today I would have jumped at the chance
Great Business Debate: What skills and lessons from your time on ‘The Apprentice’ would you pass on as advice to aspiring apprentices?
Tim: You don’t need to go on TV to become successful would be the first one! The show highlighted that interpersonal skills and learning on the job were as important, if not more so, when it came to successfully delivering business outcomes. Being book smart is important. Being able to translate that knowledge into business success is critical. Thankfully apprenticeships present a unique blend of learning both concurrently.
Great Business Debate: There’s now such a renewed focus on apprenticeships, both from business, politicians, and the public. Why do you think apprenticeships are so popular?
Tim: Apprenticeships have recently been brought sharply into focus as a result of statute amendments and the upcoming 2017 Levy payments. However many employers have been delivering apprenticeships for a long time before they were cool as they understood the reality that not all people learn the same and that talent doesn’t only come through one pipeline.
The challenge of a widening skills gap in a global economy and the ever perplexing productivity puzzle has also spurred organisations to review the talent needs of their businesses and subsequently the way they train the people they attract. Apprenticeships also have the advantage for an employer that they do not only apply to new or young, emerging talent employees giving the employer much more flexibility to make their programmes truly bespoke and fit for purpose.
Great Business Debate: Can apprenticeships be used to promote social mobility?
Tim: I think we have to be really careful with assuming apprenticeships are about social mobility. First and foremost they are about skills development and finding the best and most able talent in a competitive market place; just offering them a different route to the same destination.
The implication if not seen in this light is that those who take an apprenticeship couldn’t make it any other way when in fact apprentices are making intelligent choices based on who they are and what they want. Additionally, all education has the ability to move individuals up the social mobility ladder.
Lots of organisations have used apprenticeship recruitment to attract diverse groups of candidates, and long may this continue. The main requirement for all the organisations I have worked with is to find the best candidates for the right roles. Widening the talent pool across all recruitment pipelines, apprenticeship school leaver programmes and graduate recruitment, makes sense on all levels.