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So, my name’s Sinead Mullarky. I’m an apprenticeship programme manager at Coventry University. So, my role covers the strategic workforce plan around apprenticeships and looking at how we can make our apprenticeships as fit for purpose for all staff throughout the Coventry University group. So, an apprenticeship is a combination of on and off the job. It encompasses experiential learning and this is what makes them unique. So, apprenticeships… so an apprentice with an organisation is actually recruited. They have the same terms and conditions in terms of employability. So, they are recruited into the organisation and they complete their workplace duties, so they’ve got a job description.
And what happens as part of the programme is they complete training that’s all encompassed according to their learning standard. So, as an employer we choose the apprenticeship structure and design that’s in accordance with that job role. So, it’s about making sure the functions of that job role marry and map with the actual occupational assessment. So, it’s all about adopting new skills and substantive new learning. So, what they learn throughout their workplace, they can bring directly back into the workplace and that’s what makes apprenticeships unique.
So, the benefits of employers recruiting apprentices is there’s a variety of different benefits. So, we fulfill where we need support, where we need workplace productivity, as an employer, where we’ve got skills gaps and where we can use apprenticeships to pinpoint those gaps as part of fulfilling job role requirements, fulfilling our organisational capability framework and where we can enable staff to build their own mastery of occupation. So, they can build those desired skillsets within the required standard about how we can get the end-to-end results and overall return on expectation and also return on investment from our apprenticeship programmes.
As an apprentice themselves, it’s quite a big commitment. Obviously, it’s a big investment from us as an employer. But the work-life balance aspect within our apprentice community, it’s something that we need to look at and focus. And look at what we need to do in terms of the pinch points involved as part of the progression about how we can support that journey and those expectations about what’s required from them, from an on-the-job level, at ground level so that they obviously need to complete the day job. But also manage the expectations of being a learner one program about some of the outputs that are required. So, you know, the assignment submission, still working within deadlines.
So, that’s something that we need to keep part and parcel of the development of the programme and really recognise and on an ongoing basis consider what we can do to support that. So, hopefully with progress reviews, regular catch-ups, but also the more of the kind of pastoral elements about how we can support those individuals and take that on a case-by-case basis.

Apprenticeships are usually aimed at entry-level training and are often carried out in the following three ways:

  • Combination of learning in the workplace and in off-site environments that are geographically removed from the workplace
  • Learning at work and through attendance on training courses within the organisation
  • Solely learning in the workplace, on the job

Benefits of apprenticeships

Usually, apprenticeships last three to five years, under the guidance of a trainer who monitors the progress of the individual. Apprenticeships are great examples of the application of some of the key psychological principles of learning that we have examined so far in this course, such as imitation, guidance, feedback and reinforcement.

They also tend to include high-quality communication and reporting processes within the training, providing opportunities for apprentices to take part in other activities. Examples include meetings and committees with similar others so that they can share their experiences.

Apprentices are paid throughout the training process. On completion of their apprenticeship, they receive a recognised award which can be used to prove skills when applying for other roles.

Furthermore, while carrying out their apprenticeship, they are learning high-level practical skills as well as theory. Ultimately, they become a member of the work team, with a guaranteed position on completion of the apprenticeship programme.

Limitations of apprenticeships

While there are many advantages, there are also certain disadvantages associated with apprenticeships, some of which are listed below.

The programme may be too long for some learners, and possibly too short for others. For example, if a person has an aptitude for a particular job, they may become frustrated that they cannot progress quicker. For others, they may need more time to come to grips with the tasks.

The trainer (more experienced colleague) may be using out-of-date methods. For example, a small engineering company may not have the financial power necessary to invest in the latest technology, whereas a larger multi-national company is more likely to have access to these resources.

Another disadvantage is that good apprentices may leave once trained. Apprenticeships represent a big investment for organisations, especially in terms of the time given to train the apprentice. This investment may feel like a waste if the apprentice leaves soon after training completion.

Also, apprenticeships rely upon the relationships between the more senior/experienced team members and the apprentice. If the relationship between the trainer and the apprentice is not good, this may not be conducive to quality training and learning opportunities. For example, a trainer may see the trainee as a form of cheap labour and get them to do the jobs that no one else wants.

We have looked at some of the advantages and disadvantages of apprenticeships for the individual. Watch the above video to find out what the benefits are for an organisation.

Your task

Search online for at least three advertisements for apprenticeship programmes in the UK.
  • What do you notice about the types of jobs available via apprenticeships?
  • How do organisations describe the type of training that apprentices will undertake?
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