How to deliver online apprenticeship training during the coronavirus pandemic
Delivering online apprenticeship training
The coronavirus pandemic has had a transformative effect on the global economy, regardless of what industry or trade you work in - apprenticeships and training providers are no different. Almost every single business has had to fundamentally reconsider the way they go about work whether that be through physical measures implemented to enforce social distancing, wearing PPE in the workplace or simply through working from home (in our case, delivering online apprenticeship training). Some businesses lend well to this transformation where others unfortunately don't (just look at the impact upon the hospitality sector).
At Apprentify, the past 3 months could have been much worse. As a small business we were probably more likely to fold under these stressful times. I'd be lying if I said it hadn't crossed my mind! However, as the weeks have gone on I've come to really appreciate the model of work we've employed since day one and - whilst not immune to coronavirus - how thick skinned we have been to it's impact due to reacting quickly to the situation.
As part of our Curriculum team, our first consideration when the lockdown hit was how to adapt our training to suit "the new normal". Turns out, we didn't have to make wholesale changes where others did. We've been delivering online apprenticeship training and remote classrooms since day one which helped no end. We have however learned along the way some critical lessons to take our remote training from a good place to an even better one.
Here are my top tips for how to deliver online apprenticeship training in the (now saturated) online training market throughout the next few weeks and months.
Online apprenticeship training - 4 Top Tips
#1 Be empathetic to your learners
If you're reading this, chances are you work in the apprenticeship sector or are delivering online apprenticeship training. That means you almost certainly have learners who've been either made redundant or they've been furloughed. Furlough has been a testing time for all those affected - sometimes free time is too much (who'd have thunk it!) - if you're fortunate enough to have work as a distraction from the world as it is, have you ever sat back and truly considered what impact furlough has had upon your apprentices? Yes, they can continue their learning but that in itself isn't the carrot at the end of the stick that you think. Make sure your teams or delivery staff are regularly contacting your learners - and not always to chase them for overdue work! The impact upon our mental health and wellbeing will be the source of studies for years to come, so make sure you're doing your part to adapt your delivery model and style.
#2 Alter your delivery to what they need now
"The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry" is one of my favourite sayings. Adapted from a Robert Burns poem (not taken from the John Steinbeck novel of GCSE English fame), it highlights how even our best plans and intentions can often be rendered totally redundant. In our lifetimes, we've never been privy to something quite as "awry" as the impact of coronavirus. Your scheme of work - important as it is - can be flexible for the needs of your learner. You might have a masterclass session on SEO coming up, but is that what the learner needs right now? Are they in crisis management mode and need some support on maximising efficiency dealing with customer enquiries? Are they covering for the work of others who have been furloughed or made redundant?
Revisit your apprenticeship standard and don't be afraid to rethink your lesson plans. The impact you have now will never be forgotten - by employer or apprentice.
#3 Develop resilience through setting standards
I appreciate the irony in writing this in a pair of tracksuit bottoms (and a polo shirt, just incase someone calls me on Microsoft Teams!) but right now it's easy for your apprentices to let themselves go. That could be by forgetting to upload evidence to their ePortfolio, but perhaps it could be something more damaging. Keep their standards high by setting your standards high.
They're a few minutes late to your Adobe Connect session? Whether during coronavirus or not, that should be challenged.
They've stopped replying to your emails, texts or answering the phone? Furloughed or not, they need to keep in touch with you. For their sake more than your own.
#4 Make your training more memorable than before
This isn't a time for stubborn pride. Right now, your training needs to have even more impact than it did 3 months ago. For those still in work, the phrase "time is money" has never been more real. For those furloughed, your training sessions might be the only human contact they have all day. You just don't know the impact those few hours with you and with their peers might have.
My advice is to really nail down your understanding of what learners need beforehand. Understanding their starting point, what their skills gaps are and gathering data from your delivery staff and apprentice line managers - reach out for quantitative and qualitative feedback and data to shape your courses and training. Have you something free you can offer them to add value?
Make your delivery count!
Right now, everyone needs ROI from their training more than ever. For trainers and apprenticeship providers this gives us a unique opportunity to add value to companies - adapting your delivery for online systems and platforms, whilst challenging, could well position you as the trainer they come back to once the world has returned to something like normal.
It is amazing what Jess has learnt and given to both Purple Creative Studios and her digital marketing appretenticeship over the last 6 to 7 months.
It seems like just yesterday when Jess contacted us about a career in digital marketing. After her assessment centre success back in 2019 we knew she would be fantastic for our partner Purple Creative Studios. Purple Creative Studios put us through the mill and really wanted to ensure that they had a partner that would be a success for them as they had used other providers in the past. We think it is match made in heaven and are really proud of Jess and what she has achieved.
Digital Marketing Apprentice Award
Testament to everything we have said Jess won the Apprentify apprentice of the quarter award in May 2020 and smashing her exams throughout.
Recently Jess also helped out with a video for our partners at Cheshire and Warrington Apprentify from Learn Live. The video was a interview with our Head of Talent Scott Austin, Development Coach Gemma Swindlehurst and Jess to learn about the apprenticeship. This has been sent out to schools and colleges across the region to help promote apprenticeships. Why not have a look at the video that Apprentify and Cheshire / Warrington LEP put together with Jess last month.
Digital Marketing Apprentice of the Quarter November 2019
Annoucing Apprentify's and The Juice Academy's apprentice of the quarter. Ben has consistantly been on top of everything we have set and gone through. From day one at The Pilot Group his development coach Charles knew he had an apprentice that would set a high standard.
Well done Ben amazing award and truly deserved.
Two Successsful Apprentify Apprenticeship Ambassadors
Fantastic news as two Apprentify Apprentices Sipho Mangoye from People History Museum Manchester and Grace Collier from Making You Content recently attended the Greater Manchester Apprenticeship Ambassadors training session. Even better news is that they are now certified ambassadors and will now be educating young people on the value of going down the apprenticeship route
Everyone at Apprentify could not be prouder of Grace, Sipho and all 9 of the ambassadors. Well done and go forth and spread the wonderful word of apprenticeships as a choice of career path
Apprentify & The Juice Academy announce partnership on Junior Content Producer
Ahead of its upcoming apprentice recruitment day on Thursday 14th November, which will see the multi award-winning apprenticeship programme recruit its 25th cohort, industry leaders, The Juice Academy has selected training provider, Apprentify, as its new partner.
The Juice Academy, the not-for-profit brainchild of national communications agency, Tangerine, has been delivering apprenticeships in digital marketing for nearly seven years and recently teamed up with Apprentify, a relative newcomer to the apprenticeship market, which is already making impressive noises in the sector.
The Juice Academy has led the way in digital apprenticeships, delivering the first industry-led social media apprenticeship back in 2013. Since then it has gone on to train nearly 350 young professionals, producing employees for some of the country’s biggest brands, including Pretty Little Thing, Manchester Airport Group, Greater Manchester Police and UNILAD.
The Juice Academy selected Apprentify as its new partner as it too focuses entirely on digital marketing and social media. Apprentify’s concentrated expertise in this subject ensures the quality of its coaching and programme support. Apprentify development coaches offer a wealth of experience and digital ability, evidenced by its impressive 100% exam pass rate.
Apprentices on the programme will study the level three apprenticeship: Junior Content Producer, which focuses on content production for digital channels, while also benefitting from broader digital marketing training.
The next Juice Academy Recruitment Bootcamp, now in partnership with Apprentify, is on Thursday 14th November and there are a small number of employer and apprentice places still available. During the intensive, interactive and fun day, employers will select apprentices who have already completed a detailed digital skills scan as well as the BKSB Maths and English fundamentals with Apprentify, so they can be confident they are meeting the right level of talent to complement their company.
Speaking on the partnership with Apprentify, Sandy Lindsay MBE, founder of Tangerine and The Juice Academy, said: “We’ve reached a huge milestone as we welcome our 25th cohort of apprentices to The Juice Academy, and I’m excited about the partnership with Apprentify to deliver an ever-improving apprenticeship which will help mould some of the industry’s brightest young talent.”
Paul Drew, managing director and founder of Apprentify, said: “Apprentify is excited to be collaborating with The Juice Academy on the partnership and looking forward to making one of the best programmes on the market even better for employers across the North West. It is a match made in heaven! The Juice Academy has proven that its programme has one of the one best talent bootcamps and teaching experiences on the market. Couple this strength with Apprentify’s industry-leading assessors and industry experts and together we have a truly best in class apprenticeship experience.”
Grace was amazing throughout the Apprentify process excelling throughout especially at our apprenticeship assessment centre at the start of May. Making You Content certainly found an amazing digital marketing / social media apprentice.
We appointed Apprentify to help us source a digital marketing apprentice for our growing content agency. As we’ve never hired an apprentice before, we were completely new to this arena, and SallyAnn was extremely helpful in guiding through the process and what to expect. The experience was very smooth, and within the space of weeks we had found the perfect apprentice for our agency. SallyAnn and Dale made sure the onboarding process fitted around our business, and as a result Grace has quickly settled in with the team. We’re looking forward to seeing how the programme develops and working closely with the Apprentify team to complete the apprenticeship. Kelly Gilmour-Grassam (Director)
When I was looking for an apprenticeship, I was worried that I wouldn't find the right company for me. With the help of Scott and Dale at Apprentify, I was able to find the perfect apprenticeship. Scott informed me of everything during the process of the application, and he found me the digital marketing apprenticeship at Making You Content very quickly, and set me up for a telephone interview with Kelly, and then later on, a face-to-face interview. I am very happy here at Making You Content and I'm looking forward to learning more about the marketing industry through the apprenticeship. Grace Collier (Apprentice)
Apprentify launches first digital marketing programme
Today has been a proud and amazing day. One that I have been looking forward to for a very long time.
In August 2018 I set off on my mission to create the best digital marketing apprenticeship training provider. Today we had our first apprentices on programme. It has been a hard and long road to this point.
The whole team has worked tirelessly to deliver our programme. We have left no stone unturned to provide the best experience and service. The people would not believe the amount of research, curriculum design, systems development, quality assurance, sales strategy and talent assessment we have done to get this off the ground. It has not been easy at all but the results have been amazing.
Listening to the feedback from the first cohort has been amazing.
From the very start we knew that we wanted to develop something good and almost every employer and apprentice who we have spoken to have agreed that it is amazing.
I am so proud of everyone at Apprentify, as today we did just that.
So if you are looking for the next digital marketing apprentice superstar or looking for that next step on your career ladder then get in touch [email protected]
Developing a digital marketing standard that is not standard
To deliver the best digital marketer standard on the market the team at Apprentify knew that we needed to ensure at a few key areas were addressed to ensure that you would get the best service:
The best - We knew that to deliver the best solution we needed to work with the best. This meant a huge amount of time spent researching and the finding the best solutions out there.
Simplicity - To ensure that our apprentices and the companies that we place these in have the best experience and service we knew that it had to simple and easy to use.
Digital - It had to be online /digital and work seamlessly. Everything from digital signatures meaning no paperto online workshops needed to work together.
We knew that at the centre of our business we wanted a technology that would drive our business forward seamlessly and simple.
One of those systems was Bud. It is the best on the market (in our view and probably theirs) and allows the online sessions, face to face coaching, inductions and apprenticeship funding to work together.
Apprenticeships are complicated and we knew that we needed things to be simple, fast yet fully compliant.
Technology should be driving our apprenticeships, not embarrassing them. Gone are the days where apprenticeships are solely work based and classroom taught.
Bud has allowed us to develop a truly innovative delivery solution and process. It is fast and engaging and allows us to report on anything. Our apprentices now have a one stop shop for all of their eLearning and portfolio requirements to deliver effective apprenticeships.
It is that time of year where the national minimum wage increases and this is no different for Apprentice's. The national minimum wage for an Apprentice has increased 20 pence per hour from £3.70 to £3.90.
Apprentices are only entitled to the apprentice rate if they are aged under 19 or they are in their first year of their apprenticeship. If an apprentice is aged 19 or over and they have completed the first year of their apprenticeship they are entitled to the minimum wage for their age.
Does the role involve workplace visits, regular reviews of progress and elements of 1:1 coaching and mentoring? YES...
Does the role involve making assessment decisions against selected criteria? YES...
(we may not be allowed to officially document our decisions against portfolio evidence, because that's the EPA's job. But let's face it, ongoing assessment against the KSB's to ensure readiness for EPA is part of the job right?)
Does the role involve gathering evidence to show progression as well as effective caseload prioritisation and time management? YES...
Whichever side of the fence you lie on, one thing is for sure though, is how important these job roles are to the success of every Training Provider out there.
Finding that gem
The recruitment for this role cannot be taken lightly, or rushed. Operational Managers are often in a predicament when it comes to recruiting for this role. They're torn between the quality of the candidate and the desperation to get somebody into post, so that apprentices aren't left disengaged and start dropping behind.
The danger also lies in the performance of the candidate at interview. I liken this sometimes to conducting OTLA's. I've observed many Assessors (Sorry Tutors... Sorry Trainers... Sorry... oh you know what I mean!) that have been able to put 'on a show' at a formal observation. And yet, when you dig deeper, their usual performance in role is far from 'Outstanding.' How many times have you been duped into hiring a new Assessor and they ended up being far from what they made out to be at interview?
Luckily for us, our OTLA's consider far more than just the formal observation, but that's neither here nor there in regards to this blog. What I want to know is, to what lengths do you go to ensure you're hiring that 'Outstanding' Assessor? The one that doesn't let you down. Does what they say they will do, when they say they'll do it, and then more?
Perhaps the way to go is to ask them to provide evidence to prove their achievements against a list of internally defined criteria in order to make a decision? Or is that just 'Frameworks' Assessing?