Tim Campbell
Miranda Dobson

Tim Campbell backs "The Apprentice" route

Apprenticeship Ambassador for Boris Johnson, Winner The Apprentice 2005, social entrepreneur, and MBE for Enterprise and Culture 2012. These are just the headline accolades that Tim Campbell holds under his belt, and with his latest role focusing on making improvements in UK apprenticeships, the market looks set for vast improvements.

Bdaily spoke to Tim, to find out the score on apprenticeships, after a 14% rise in the number of apprenticeships between 2011 and 2012, and a predicted 50% increase over the next five years.

So why this increase in apprenticeship schemes and the number of people taking them on?

Tim explained: “If you’ve got the pressures that have come with university courses and the fee structure, individuals are having to make conscious decisions about whether or not university is the right place for them.

“It’s just in the last 10 to 15 years that apprenticeships have not been viewed as being as sexy as getting letters after your name, but actually individuals will be able to leave with skills that will stay with them for life.”

Apprenticeships are undoubtedly the right route for some people, but with an astoundingly low rate of pay for those under 19 in their first year of the scheme, and no strict guarantee at the end for some apprentices, is the benefit for business coming at the cost of those undertaking the schemes.

Tim disagrees with criticisms of apprenticeship pay, arguing that very few employers actually pay the minimum £2.65 rate, which is set to increase by 3 pence in October.

He said it is a “quid pro quo” arrangement, where apprentices are being paid as they learn, and come out at the end a lot more employable having received training and education for free.

Tim continued: “Actually [apprentices] increase their earning potential exponentially. For those who’re coming out of higher apprenticeships, they’re in a situation where they’re potentially in a better financial situation for the medium to long term compared with a graduate.

“From the point of individuals not getting jobs at the end of their apprenticeships, the figures are up now to around 79%, with people getting jobs after completing their apprenticeship. So it’s getting better, it’s not anywhere near the 100% mark but I don’t think that it ever will be the case.”

Tim’s latest role is with talent and management company, Alexander Mann Solutions (AMS), where he is helping to build the first apprenticeship management service in the UK.

AMS hopes to get young people into jobs and offer alternatives to university. But what does the Government and the education system need to do to support such initiatives?

Tim said: “There’s an intrinsic dilemma in the education system where we have individuals who are very different in their abilities and desires, who are encouraged to go on to further and higher education.

“I don’t think there’s a lot of value in saying which one is better, it’s just different routes for different people. We need to tip that hierarchical triangle which has PhDs at the top and people with vocational skills at the bottom.

“I think education has a big part to play, and what Michael Gove is trying to do with putting more rigour into our national curriculum could also be supported by making sure there are more options on a vocational level.”

Despite saying the education system needs to make improvements, Tim said the Government is already doing enough to support apprenticeships; it is employers who need to change their attitudes and see the value in taking on apprentices.

Tim explained: “We need more employers to understand the power and potential of apprenticeships. They stay longer, they’re more productive, [and] they’re more loyal to their organisations.

He also emphasised the importance of speaking to parents and guardians to improve their understanding of apprenticeship schemes.

Tim was the first of his family to go to university, and he studied for a BSc in Psychology at Middlesex University. He said if he had told his mum he wanted to do an apprenticeship, it wouldn’t have been received so well. However he said if she had know the financial and employment benefits, she may have thought differently.

So could someone who goes through an apprentice scheme reach the same levels of success that Tim has seen?

“100%. We’re doing a piece of work with a very large financial organisation, and one of their senior leaders, Chris O’Sullivan, who works for RBS bank- he’s an ex-apprentice. He didn’t go to university, but he now runs one of the most powerful divisions in one of [Britain’s biggest] banks.

“You’ve got people from our FTSE 100 and 250 businesses who have also been apprentices who’ve come through the system and grown and developed.”

Tim predicted that, although a vast range of sectors can benefit from taking on apprentices, it will be the finance sector, consultancies, and engineering firms who take most advantage of these schemes.

He concluded: “The robust evidence that’s come back from the likes of Warwick University and others … has shown that apprentices are, if not as productive, more productive [than graduates].

“People are now proving how providing apprenticeships is good for business. It’s moving away from a social responsibility initiative and becoming more of an HR and finance initiative to find the best talent at the most efficient rate, and to find individuals who are going to stay with the company.”

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