Why you should consider a marketing apprenticeship

For the first time, the marketing industry can provide an apprenticeship offering that goes from A Level to Master’s degree as it looks to show the value of alternative routes into the industry.

Apprenticeships-Two new marketing apprenticeships have been approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships, taking the provision all the way from Level 3 marketing assistant (equivalent to an A Level qualification) through to Level 7 (equivalent to a Master’s degree).

The standards and end-point assessment plans, developed by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) in collaboration with a group of brands including Mercedes Financial Services, Clarks and BT, cover a new Level 3 marketing apprenticeship and a marketing adaptation of the current senior leaders Level 7 apprenticeship. This means that for the first time the marketing industry will be able to provide an end-to-end apprenticeship offering.

The launch of the new apprenticeships comes after the successful roll-out of the Level 4 marketing executive programme and Level 6 marketing manager course early last year, which to date have attracted more than 200 applicants.

“We’ve now got marketing standards that align with the full suite of CIM qualifications from Level 3 to Level 7, but also more importantly from an apprenticeship perspective we’ve covered the typical role profiles related to the profession,” explains Maggie Jones, director of qualifications and partnerships at CIM.

Jones sees these new apprenticeships as a chance for marketers at all stages of their career to upskill, especially as the standards have been developed with business and therefore reflect the requirements of the workplace.

The upskilling push follows a recent skills audit of 5,000 marketers, commissioned by CIM, which found executives lack core digital skills such as content (25%) and mobile marketing (28%).

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“Marketing is a practitioner-based professional vocation, so it’s all about remaining current and relevant. We’ve got a lot of emphasis on continuous professional development,” says Jones.

“Somebody who’s been in the profession for five or six years has similar needs to update their skills as somebody joining at 18. The Level 7 standard allows them to do that and reinforce that knowledge into career progression.”

Having been granted independent end-point assessor organisation (EPAO) status, CIM is now responsible for assessing apprentices at the end of their course, with the first cohort of students coming through for assessment in early 2020.

Furthermore, as there is now alignment between the qualifications CIM offers as a professional body and the apprenticeships, the organisation will be in a position to offer exemptions for people who successfully complete an apprenticeship standard, meaning a potential fast track to gaining a CIM qualification.

Changing perceptions

The focus on Brexit and today’s (12 December) general election has taken the political focus off apprenticeships. However, Jones is pleased to see the apprenticeship levy is covered in the manifestos of the main political parties.

The Labour Party, for example, says it will reform the apprenticeship levy through the introduction of a National Education Service that would offer “a wider range of accredited training”, including free lifelong entitlement to apprenticeship training up to Level 3.

The Conservatives, meanwhile, are promising a £3bn National Skills Fund to train “hundreds of thousands more highly skilled apprentices” as part of a wider “improvement” of the apprenticeship levy.

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Jones argues that whether someone is entering the profession at 16 or looking to progress their professional development after years in the industry, it is important to offer choice.

Getting young people interested in marketing apprenticeships starts with educating not just the student but their wider influencer group, in particular parents. CIM has recognised through its work with universities that often parents do not know what marketing is, meaning it is crucial to explain to them the contribution marketing makes.

“We are developing more content so our apprenticeships page will target all people who are involved in the process – that’s the apprentice, the providers, the people who might want to be assessors and the employers. We’ve got everything in place to do that,” says Jones.

A big part of growing the uptake in apprenticeships is about showing people there are alternative routes into marketing besides conventional degree education. Cultivating a parity of esteem, which recognises the value and richness of apprenticeships, is also important.

“Apprenticeships have, in the past, been for truly vocational professions such as plumbers or electricians and that’s still the image a lot of people have. But there is richness for both the apprentice and the employer,” Jones explains.

“The apprentice could be bringing entirely new learning into the organisation and they’re getting to use it on a daily basis. Universities have recognised this over the years and will tell you that students who go out on placement come back very much more fit for purpose than those who don’t.”