The benefits of employing an apprentice
Testimonials from apprenticeship employers.
BAE Systems has always taken on apprentices because they allow the company to undertake organic growth, according to Rifaaqat Ahmed, previously the project management skills coach at BAE Systems. “[Apprentices] provide valuable lifeblood to the company; the value of having a project management apprentice has been tenfold”.
Rifaaqat recommends all business and organisations to look into apprenticeships and work with learning schemes: “more and more young people are looking to become an apprentice as a first choice rather than university which is understandable as it provides on the job training and professional qualifications.”
It is a worthwhile venture, and “the organisation needs to be ready for an apprentice; they add a lot of value, but the value only comes if the apprentice is appreciated and mentored in the right way. You need to put value and effort into the apprentice for the company to reap the rewards. This means allowing time for the apprentice to develop their skills and then prove themselves. You also need to be aware that towards the end of the apprenticeship the apprentices will be under high pressure and so as a company you need to accommodate the time for them to study/revise for the same and help them with mock assessments.”
The personal development and growth from mentoring and coaching has benefited apprentices as well as Rifaaqat in his own career; he’s able to build new relationships with diverse people and strengthen his people management skills, as well as his project management skills: “they question old ideas which makes you change and adapt.”
Not only do apprentices benefit the projects the organisation is working on, but they also help the entire team develop themselves.
Image courtesy of BAE Systems: Rifaaqat Ahmed, left received the BAE Systems Early Careers special recognition award presented by Chris Boardman Managing Director, right
Natalie Grant is the senior content delivery manager and a qualified project manager who decided to take on an apprentice, Claire, as part of her role as team manager at Pearson UK in 2019.
Many of the projects are bespoke so it can often be challenging when covering the APM topics that a project management apprentice needs for evidence, but it pushes the business, apprentice manager and project team to refresh themselves and create opportunities for the apprentice to flourish: “We have looked carefully at the topic/evidence requirements and talked through how Claire could approach this in her work environment and with her projects. We did this for earned value management (EVM) and our apprentice Claire set up a recorded conversation between two other project managers to discuss the use of EVM in the specific publishing environment in which we work.”
Apprentices learn on the job through unique experiences that businesses can provide; it’s a big win-win for the apprentice who wants to know more and the business that can nurture this talent and fill skill gaps in the business. Claire has worked so well that the delivery team often approach her with requests for resolution on supplier allocation, digital project issues and updates. She has worked hard to push herself and is now a content delivery manager.
Employing an apprentice is a rewarding experience that requires dedication from the project team and apprentice manager to guide, motivate and help them as they develop. Not only does the apprentice gain experience in a professional environment, but the project team benefits from having someone with fresh ideas; you get out what you put in and having an apprentice has certainly been worthwhile.
If you're interested in applying for a project management apprenticeship visit the GOV.UK website and check the site regularly for the latest updates.