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Apprentices are quickly becoming a vital asset to businesses across the country, but in an industry as fast changing as Digital Marketing is your agency utilising them to their fullest potential? Michael O’Flynn of apprenticeship and business training provider Professional Academy gives his insights on the matter.

Marketing is perhaps the most diverse field of work imaginable, with various sub-sectors and a breakneck pace to maintain traction alongside ever-changing public trends. A well-oiled Marketing team is hot commodity inside the business of today, while experience is highly valued so to equally should youth and enthusiasm. Apprenticeships have exploded over the last decade; Marketing agencies around the country are taking on young apprentices, so, what should they be doing?

Every agency has its own nuances, unique characteristics to separate it from the hundreds of others like it, without a certain niche an agency will quickly crumble. Likewise no two apprentices are the same, while certain procedures can be used to extract the best talent each individual that pursues a career in the industry will have a speciality that you need to identify.

Professional Academy are approved apprenticeship providers for Digital Marketing, we feel it’s vital that agencies such as yours know how to look after the apprentices that make their way through your doors.

Marketing apprentices account for a tiny proportion of all apprenticeships, in 2016 a mere 0.2% of all apprentices were on a course in the Arts, Media and Publishing sector. Just over 1,000 of a near 900,000 figure is a pittance, if talent isn’t seeking out the industry, the industry needs to make the most of those that are.

While university degrees in Marketing and its related fields remain popular, the experience factor that an apprentice builds shouldn’t be overlooked. While a graduate may enter the agency with a higher starting set of skills they tend to lack the knowledge or experience that time in a real-world working environment develops. Taking on an apprentice at the start of their journey provides the opportunity to mould them into someone you would be happy to hire permanently.

Placing your trust into an apprentice isn’t a one-way street; the person entering your workspace is expecting to be provided with assistance, time and slowly built up to becoming a fully skilled employee who can contribute in meaningful ways to the future of your agency.

Getting started with an apprentice

The initial steps in taking on an apprentice revolve mainly around finding out what specifically they are interested in working on, Social Media is ever-popular, traditional marketing remains attractive, Web & SEO work continues to grow. Depending on the sectors that your agency covers, try using a rotation system to allow your apprentices to spend a week or two in each section before deciding where their future lies.

As with an apprentice in any industry the key aspect to keep in mind is that they’re starting at ground zero, unlike a typical new hire who will be entering with qualifications and experience to fall back on. Between the agency and the training provider the apprentice will grow throughout their time with you, transforming into a member of the team.

To accomplish this, start small – begin their experience with medial jobs that are necessary but aren’t time-sensitive. Something as simple as blog writing (even if they’re edited later) can provide a sense of achievement to sustain their motivation and desire to succeed. As they spend more time in the company task them with evermore important responsibilities, joining in with brainstorming sessions or compiling research.

Once the apprentice starts to see the additional duties you are giving them, their self-belief will equally rise with the knowledge that not only are they improving, they’re becoming a member of the team, someone that can be relied upon when needed and trusted to get the job done.

Never go against the apprentice’s wishes, at the end of the day they’re at your agency to learn. If they don’t feel comfortable enough to complete their work the whole relationship falls apart and the situation becomes untenable for both parties involved which can end up costing you to cover the training provider’s costs.

By taking on an apprentice you’re doing so with the understanding that they aren’t a short term fix, they’re a long term investment… into their future and also the agency’s. With the right planning and guidance you can find yourself a perfect candidate to fill a spot in your team; it’s all depends on how you go about including them.

Michael O’Flynn is Sales & Marketing Director at global business training and apprenticeship providers Professional Academy