The data and marketing industry is missing a “cohesive strategy” for promoting and running apprenticeship programmes, according to the Data & Marketing Association (DMA).
Speaking at the start of National Apprenticeships Week (8 to 14 February), the organisation believes there is yet to be a “unified and sustained push” to lead the data and marketing experts of tomorrow towards apprenticeships.
As a result, DMA Talent is teaming up with training company The JGA Group to deliver accredited apprenticeship training as part of a plan to widen access for marketing apprentices.
This means that, from March onwards, apprentices will be able to access content from the Institute of Data & Marketing (IDM) as part of their training.
“Apprenticeships need to become part of the overall talent strategy – driven by the boardroom so they become embedded into the DNA of a business,” says general manager of DMA Talent, Kate Burnett.
“With more support and guidance for businesses, we can increase the number of apprentices across the industry. But we must improve senior stakeholder buy-in, improve understanding of the apprenticeship levy and help organisations to discover accredited training providers.”
Official statistics indicate support for apprenticeships at all levels has been hit by the pandemic. Figures from the Department for Education show that between 23 March and 31 July 2020 in England, 58,160 apprentices started their training, down from 107,750 during the same period in 2019. Apprenticeships for the under-19s were particularly affected, decreasing by over two-thirds compared to the same period last year.
To learn more about the state of the apprenticeship sector, the DMA conducted research with 17 senior professionals across the data and marketing industry. It found there are 16 data and marketing apprenticeships on offer nationwide, yet many aspiring young marketers still can’t see a clear route into a suitable role that will develop their skills, while others are unaware of the training opportunities.
From a company perspective, issues persist around boardrooms being difficult to engage for programme development and funding, while organisations are also struggling to find accredited training providers. Furthermore, the research identifies departmental differences between HR and marketing in terms of apprentices’ roles and learning.
The DMA also believes government communications must be clearer, as analysis of the interviews found confusion about what the apprenticeship levy can be used for.
In addition, the report suggests the structure of apprenticeships needs to be reviewed to allow for a better balance between work and study time. The DMA found “widespread consternation” among employers about the current requirement that every programme must allocate a minimum of 20% of an apprentice’s time to study.
The DMA is now calling for a “concerted effort” from everyone across the industry to ensure young people have the opportunity to begin a career in data and marketing. Going forward, the organisation has committed to promote the benefits of employing apprentices to firms, share best practice, provide ad hoc training for line managers and help define the apprenticeship endpoint.