National Apprenticeship week brings with it a yearly spotlight on the world of apprentice learning. Inevitably most media coverage focuses on the horror stories around young people not being trained properly and schemes ending due to financial mismanagement. We can though take solace in the many schemes that are delivering results with apprentices young and old successfully taking on new careers.
AssistKD's own apprentice journey (you have to have a journey these days) started in 2014 and required significant preliminary work to have the scheme signed off by the Government. It took a while to complete this work and the scheme went live in March 2017.
Business Analyst Apprenticeships are for Anyone
Apprenticeships can be for anyone and don’t have a specific age profile. The only proviso is that the learning provided is new for the apprentice. Your immediate thoughts may focus on the school-leaver but many experienced employees use the apprentice programme to make a career change. ‘Situationally determined’ may not be a phrase that comes instantly to mind but many people find themselves in roles that do not fulfil their potential and/or aspirations. It is sometimes too easy to stay in a role that pays the bills but is unrewarding. In these circumstances, apprenticeship funding can offer an opportunity for a new career path.
Key Apprenticeship Considerations for Apprentices, Employers and Training Providers
Almost two years on from the start of the BA apprentice programmes, there is an opportunity to evaluate what has been achieved and examine the factors critical for success. Government advice on the dos and don’ts for successful apprenticeship programmes is extensive so, to avoid a lengthy read, here are the key considerations, captured in a page or two and from three perspectives: apprentice, employer and training provider. The commentary relates only to the delivery of the IS Business Analysis level 4 apprenticeship but there are some universal lessons offered.
The Business Analyst Apprentice
- Motivation to learn. The apprentice should have a personal motivation to learn and use new skills. Apprenticeship schemes are designed to be challenging yet achievable and the motivation to keep on track is a key factor.
- Appreciate the opportunity. Having the time and expert support to build the core BA toolkit is a fantastic opportunity for a longer-term career. This should be fully appreciated by the apprentice.
- Good habits. Getting into good habits should be achieved as early as possible. Most if not all schemes require a detailed portfolio of evidence to be compiled. The timely and detailed recording of evidence and lessons learned is the most important habit to develop.
- Ask questions. Apprentices should be prepared and comfortable to ask questions. All questions are good questions and apprentices have to remember they are learning in order to join a new profession.
The Business Analyst Apprentice Employer
- Apprentices are learners. Employers must always treat apprentices as learners. The apprentice will be allocated project work but they are primarily a learner and the focus must be on developing the skills for their chosen career.
- Standard coverage. Employers must be able to provide coverage of the entire Apprenticeship Standard (the professional and personal skills required to be demonstrated by the apprentice). Click here to view the Standard for the Business Analysis apprenticeship. Knowing what is required to complete an apprenticeship programme successfully is a useful start point.
- 20% of time in formal learning. It is a mandatory requirement that apprentices spend at least 20% of their time in formal learning. This is time usually spent ‘away from the day job’. Employers need to consider carefully if this fits with their culture and operating model.
- Ongoing support. Having an internal mentor available to support the apprentices is a vital ingredient to ensure they develop the required skills. However, mentoring isn’t for everyone and due care should be taken when identifying an internal mentor, both in terms of the time the person has available and their disposition. The internal mentor should have the ability and authority to ensure the apprentices have the opportunities to gain the required skills.
- Long term opportunity. Apprentices will usually begin their programme with a clear route towards a next level, full-time role. It’s important that there is a career objective to aim for.
The Business Analyst Apprenticeship Training Provider
The employer levy funding can only be used in payments to approved training providers for the apprenticeship scheme. The following factors should be considered:
- Necessary expertise. The provider should bring a thorough knowledge and understanding of how to run a successful apprenticeship scheme. The provider should be able to offer significant expertise within the particular profession and a track record of success.
- A structured programme. A well-organised and structured programme should cater for all learning styles and include the right mix of online, taught course and one-to-one coaching.
- Mentor knowledge and experience. The external mentor is the pivotal role in the apprenticeship and must have the experience and ability to support the apprentices throughout their programme.
If all three parties meet their obligations, apprentices have an excellent chance of completing their apprenticeship programmes successfully and writing their own good news stories. Apprentice programmes are a significant undertaking for all perspectives but the potential rewards are significant, and not just for the individual apprentice.
Are you interested in updating your BA toolkit or training for a professional certification? Check out AssistKD's wide choice of business analysis courses.