Apprenticeship vs Degree

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Apprenticeship Versus Degree? Unlocking Potential for Employers


Could apprentices have the edge?  In National Apprenticeship Week, Jason Watson of Strategy to Revenue believes a more nuanced approach to new recruits from different backgrounds can help unlock potential.

I've had the privilege of onboarding hundreds of apprentices and graduates to corporate environments across a wide spectrum of sectors.

Those with apprenticeships shared the same energy and fresh-faced willingness as their graduate colleagues. While the route to their first job might have been different, their outlook and positivity is equally contagious.

But, as employers, should we treat both groups differently? I believe so.

The graduate usually lacks real world experience, has learned mostly by rote and needs support in applying theory to practical workplace contexts.

Meanwhile, the general view is that apprenticeships focus on vocational skills.  With this comes an assumption that apprentices have less theoretical knowledge to underpin skills. The employer must flex the onboarding process to accommodate this likelihood.

However, learning and development within many organisations assumes the same base level of knowledge and skill in new recruits. I believe changing this will unlock potential within both apprentices and graduates.

We simply cannot have a ‘one size fits all’ approach to onboarding. This fails to exploit the advantages unique to both of their paths. 

Unlocking talent means recognising, developing and celebrating differences. Unlock talent and we unlock success. No two people are the same - we all learn differently and start from a different place, yet talent and learning development is built on assumptions.

Learning & Development departments often fail to address differences and assume a new hire needs the same on-boarding as every other new hire.

Some forward-looking organisations tailor their approach based on background. ‘Best in class’ innovators create truly individual experiences with specific goals at specific times; targeted to deliver a faster time-to-productivity for the role.

Interestingly, as a business that assesses competence across a wide range of industries, we find that apprentices embrace the innovative approach faster than graduate audiences who still have a curriculum mindset. What are your experiences? I'd be interested to know so we can improve our product for the benefit of the re-emerging trend towards apprenticeships.

For more information, please contact: Jason Watson.

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