The Apprenticeship Experience

Apprenticeships have the potential to benefit care-experienced young people by offering hands on work experience, studying towards a qualification, all whilst being paid! This can make apprenticeships appear to be a great alternative to university. However, all that glitters is not gold. Despite the amazing opportunities to break into various industries, many apprenticeships are still not accessible to most care-experienced young people because the current minimum hourly rate for an apprentice in their first year is £4.30!

Can you imagine not taking an opportunity to further your career just because you couldn’t afford to live?

For our young people this is the balancing act they have to perform. With rent and bills to pay and no family support to fall back on, it means that more often than not they do have to sacrifice amazing opportunities to further their careers for the sake of making ends meet.

However, not all apprenticeships offer only the minimum hourly rate and we’ll see from two of our care-experienced young people the power apprenticeships truly have for their career progression.

First up is Joseph, who is now in his second year of his apprenticeship. We spoke to him in February last year, only a few months into this new experience.

An Apprenticeship in Digital Marketing with Joseph:

“I’ve been with Drive Forward since 2019 and right now I’m doing a level three digital marketing apprenticeship with Global Council. The apprenticeship is delivered by Multiverse who are one of Drive Forward’s partners and they specialise in upskilling people from all kinds of backgrounds so it’s great to have this opportunity and it’s going really well.”   

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship? 

I chose to do an apprenticeship because it’s a great way to learn whilst actually doing the job. I get support from the Multiverse coaches who help me throughout the apprenticeship and I also get paid whilst learning. So, I thought it made sense to try out an apprenticeship because it’s a great alternative to university at this moment.  

What else makes an apprenticeship different to an internship? 

An apprenticeship isn’t just like working in construction for example, there’s loads of different apprenticeships that you can do. With Multiverse they offer things like digital marketing apprenticeship qualifications, business admin, project management and a few others. So, the main difference with an apprenticeship is that you are working towards a qualification at the end of it as well as working a normal job. 

I would say you spend around 20% of the time studying to learn a new skill or depending on the qualification you might have certain modules to complete. So, your learning might include having to complete assignments that your coach sets you throughout the apprenticeship. I think the number of modules varies depending on what qualification you’re doing but I’ve got about eight different modules that I have to finish over the 18-months that I’m doing for my apprenticeship. However, the rest of the time, so like 80%, is doing the job and receiving training from your company.  

Can you tell us more about modules? 

Modules are like a broad overview, of the principles of marketing for example. I won’t necessarily use all of them in my job role but it’s about learning the different aspects of digital marketing. I know I’ll also be learning how to code in a couple months for another module but again that might not be relevant to my role, but it’s just what we have to learn as part of the apprenticeship. In order to gain my qualification, I also have to sit three different exams based on the modules I have been learning. At the moment my modules are all virtual because of Covid-19.  

What kind of training did you receive during your apprenticeship? 

I didn’t know anything about the CRM platform they use, called Hub Spot, but they taught me everything from scratch. So now I know that it’s a database that stores all of their contacts and relevant information and I can use that to help me during my apprenticeship.  

What sparked your interested for digital marketing? 

Someone recommended that I should look at some online courses since I had just finished my Creative Media course at college and I didn’t have anything else to do. When I looked online, I found the Google Digital Garage courses and one of them was called ‘Fundamentals of Digital Marketing’. Through that I was learning about e-commerce and selling products online so, that’s when I thought I wanted to learn more about digital marketing and how to grow an online presence. So, when I found out that there were digital marketing apprenticeships, I really wanted to apply to one to express my creativity, explore new skills and maybe start my own brand.  

Is having your own brand something that you want to do in the future or are you interested in how digital marketing works? 

I think it’s a bit of both because I think I do want to start a brand and build an online presence; but I feel like I need the experience of doing that with like a team first and then try and do it myself. I like the idea of either building a gaming brand where I have my own YouTube channel or maybe a fitness brand where I would do fitness videos.   

Have you always been determined or have you ever felt a bit lost? 

Yeah, I didn’t really know what to do but then I kept going back to Drive Forward who always supported me with applying for jobs. Luckily, Multiverse partnered with Drive Forward and that’s how I found the apprenticeship.

I think for me I was a bit lost after I finished college. I didn’t really know what to do from there but Heaven, my Employment Consultant at Drive Forward, helped me apply for some jobs. There was an internship for Apple that I went for and that was to do with app development which I thought was interesting. At that time, I didn’t really know what else to do. I didn’t know if I could get apprenticeships in creative media or if I wanted to train as a personal trainer. Yeah, I didn’t really know what to do but then I kept going back to Drive Forward who always supported me with applying for jobs. Luckily, Multiverse partnered with Drive Forward and that’s how I found the apprenticeship.  

Would you recommend the apprenticeship experience to other young people? 

Yeah, it depends because everyone is different but I would recommend it if you like learning on the job and having practical experience. Some people might think that apprenticeships are easy but actually it can be quite difficult to manage both your job and your coursework. I don’t think there are many downsides to doing an apprenticeship either because you’re not missing out on the social life that you’d get at university that much because there’s like a community platform where you get to know all different apprentices on your course. There used to be community events where you’d meet the other apprentices in person but not so much now because of Covid-19 but we have those events virtually.  

On those video calls they do show you how to manage the workload or how to split your time between the virtual office and your course. Even though the studying is only 20% of the job, it’s a requirement that you have to pass in order to complete your apprenticeship. So, I just let my manager know when I need more time to focus on my coursework and not job-related things to ensure I giving myself the best chance at passing.  

The BAME Apprenticeship Awards 2021!

The BAME Apprenticeship Awards works in partnership with Pearson to showcase the outstanding work and achievement of apprentices from black & minority ethnic groups (BAME), and inspires BAME apprentices to reach their full potential. The awards are organised by The BAME Apprentice Network who aim to close the diversity gap in apprenticeships by supporting apprentices and working with employers to make meaningful change. Drive Forward is so proud that Joseph was nominated as a finalist!  

How did it feel to be nominated for the BAME Apprenticeship Awards and what have you learnt from your apprenticeship so far?   

I was delighted to have been nominated and picked as a finalist in the BAME Apprenticeships Awards 2021. I have learnt and developed many soft and hard skills since the start of my apprenticeship. In the past, I have struggled with staying up late, not having a routine and not knowing how to organise my tasks during the day and with help, I have vastly improved in these areas. 

I also gained the motivation to start exploring digital marketing outside of my apprenticeship and I have been learning how to create digital branding. As a result, my mental health has improved, I am healthier and I am more productive. The team from Drive Forward Foundation, Multiverse and Global Counsel have helped me find a clear direction in my career path.

Joseph is also participating in Drive Forward’s Mentoring scheme and this is what his Mentor, Aimen, had to say:  

“When I first met Joseph, I was blown away by his ambition and drive. It’s been a pleasure mentoring him and seeing him push himself and go for new opportunities with confidence. He asks really good questions which often challenge me to think in a clearer and more structured way, which is great. He deserves every success that will inevitably come his way.”  

"I chose to do an apprenticeship because it's a great way to learn whilst actually doing the job. I get support from the Multiverse coaches who help me throughout the apprenticeship and I also get paid whilst learning. So, I thought it made sense to try out an apprenticeship because it’s a great alternative to university at this moment." 
DFF Young Person

Making apprenticeships more accessible

Multiverse are on a mission to create a diverse group of future leaders by providing high quality apprenticeships in business admin, software engineering and digital marketing. They offer tailored support through the application process and have worked with Drive Forward Foundation to ensure that individuals experience consistent quality support throughout. Our contact, Joe, is eager to enable young people to put their best foot forward and get the best chance to be successful in their applications! Read the full story here!

“At Multiverse, we believe apprenticeships have the potential to be an incredible vehicle for social mobility that is why our partnership with Drive Forward is so important. While talent is evenly distributed, the opportunity is not. By providing young people with world-class opportunities and support we believe that we are creating future leaders!”

Building Her Future in Construction, Shazia:

“Before I signed up with Drive Forward I felt stuck in retail, like I couldn’t leave. No matter how hard I tried to find a new job, I just wasn’t making any progress. I was working so hard to become a Team Leader but it never happened. So, I didn’t feel very hopeful about my future until I met Heaven, my Employment Consultant at Drive Forward. She showed me all the opportunities Drive Forward had and that’s when I finally started getting hopeful for progression within my career mainly.”

We spoke to Shazia in July 2021 to catch up about her apprenticeship in the world of construction. What was amazing to hear from our conversation was how happy she was in her new role!

When I was working in retail, I was transitioning out of care at age 19. I was trying to find my independence, trying to find a career and I felt kind of stuck. That’s why I initially came to Drive Forward because I wanted to earn enough money to look after not only myself but for when I can get custody of my younger brother.

What apprenticeship are you doing?

Right now I’m working in construction as a Business Admin apprentice, but I am training to become a Logistics Project Manager. I do quite a bit as part of my role such as daily delivery reports, taking inventory, ordering anything out of stock and I organise the forwarders.  

What was it like starting an apprenticeship in construction?

When I first started I was really nervous but my team is so amazing. They helped me settle in so well and they answered all of my questions. I’ve been in my apprenticeship for over 6 months now and they want me to know more. I think knowledge is key because it can get you so far. I’m more than happy to learn as much as I can, as quickly as I can. The apprenticeship is for two years but since I’m employed by my company, they’re going to keep me on afterwards too.   

Did you ever consider doing an apprenticeship before now?

Previously, I would have never considered doing an apprenticeship; only because I would have to do my GCSEs again. I know with apprenticeships you have to study and work at the same time. Heaven, my Employment Consultant at Drive Forward Foundation, did try to encourage me to apply for some apprenticeships. The one I am currently doing pretty flexible and is more focused on working, which is what I wanted overall. Even though I still have to study, it’s a good opportunity and promises the career progression I need. I want to build my career to the level where I’m making a good living, being paid a good wage and I’m happy with where I am by 25.  

What have you learnt so far?

During my apprenticeship I’ve learned how to do QR codes and how to upload our health and safety regulations and documents so everyone in my company can see them. On top of that I’m completing my GCSEs for Maths and English as well. So, it’s a busy time but I’m managing it well; I’m making sure I’m keeping myself mentally healthy while I do it. I know it sounds like a lot of responsibility but I was eased into the role.   

How is it working and studying at the same time? 

Since it’s an apprenticeship, I get given eight hours a week to study. So I would take a couple hours off of work to do my coursework in the office. However, I found it difficult at the start to get into a routine, but my Manager is very supportive of my studies. He keeps me on track with it all.   

A lot of young people that we work with can’t afford to do an apprenticeship because they don’t necessarily offer enough money to live off. How do you manage that?  

My apprenticeship is salaried at £18,500 a year which means I earn around £1,500 per month give or take the tax. So, compared to what I was earning when I was in retail, this is quite good. Also, after the first year I’m supposed to receive a pay rise but if that doesn’t happen I can leave the apprenticeship. Having that flexibility is really useful as I learn new skills that I can take anywhere.

Goals & Growth

What are you hoping to achieve with this apprenticeship?

At the end of my apprenticeship I am aiming to be a Logistics Manager. After two years, I’ll probably be a Logistics Manager Supervisor because that’s the next step my Manager wants me to get to. In addition, I’m hopefully going to pass my GCSEs as well. So by the end of it all I will have achieved all that and have my level three business admin under my belt as well.   

How have you grown since doing the apprenticeship?

Since joining Drive Forward I’m more confident if I’m honest, because they helped me tweak my CV so many times. Through their support, it made me realise how good I actually am. I never realised how driven I am in comparison to others, because I just thought everyone else had a similar mindset to mine. I think having people working on my CV showed me like how humble I can be when I really should be trying to present the best version of myself. I really feel like that has helped me gain a lot of confidence as I’ve had to really push myself outside of my comfort zone. Now I can talk to people that I don’t know to ask for help and Drive Forward have changed my perspective on apprenticeships too.

"Even though I still have to study, it's a good opportunity and promises the career progression I need. I want to build my career to the level where I'm making a good living, being paid a good wage and I'm happy with where I am by 25. "  
DFF Young Person

We love apprenticeships

At Drive Forward we love apprenticeships which enable individuals to earn whilst they learn. And from reading Joseph and Shazia’s experiences, so do our care-experienced young people!

However, we need more employers to acknowledge that not every young person has the option to live at home whilst doing an apprenticeship or to receive financial support from their family. The young people working with us have such varied interests in different careers and are eager to put in the time and effort to succeed. Sustainable and liveable apprenticeships not only offer career progression but also allow young people to contribute positively to society.

At the moment, many of them are held back by social and economic ties. In order to truly unlock their full potential and demonstrate the value of apprenticeships, we need to raise salaries so that care-experienced young people are able to take full advantage of them!

The Apprenticeships and Social Mobility Report (June 2020) concluded that the apprenticeship levy, which was introduced in 2017, disproportionately funded higher-level apprenticeships for learners from more advantaged communities, rather than those from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. Between 2015/16 and 2017/18, the number of disadvantaged apprentice starts fell from 36% to just 13% which is greater than the corresponding drop for their more privileged apprentice colleagues.

If you’re an employer who wants to help provide real opportunities for care-experienced young people to live and work then get in contact with us below! To see how our current partners and supporters help us achieve this, click here.

"Apprenticeships have the potential to promote social mobility, but only if targeted at disadvantaged learners, which is not happening."

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