Apprenticeships: A fifth of marketers admit their business ‘doesn’t see value’

With brands from Procter & Gamble to BMW introducing apprenticeships in marketing, why aren’t more businesses exploring alternative routes into the workplace?

Career & Salary Survey 2022Brands often talk about their desire to nurture diverse talent and source the next generation of marketers from beyond the traditional university degree route.

But while progress is being made in some organisations, the widespread adoption of marketing-specific apprenticeships is being blocked by blind spots in business culture, according to exclusive data from the 2022 Marketing Week Career and Salary Survey.

The research reveals more than half (57.9%) of marketers work for a brand with no marketing apprenticeship. Of the 4,463 marketers surveyed, 21.2% say the company does not currently see the value in it.

A further 10.4% say it is too complicated to develop a programme, while 6.6% cannot get buy-in at the highest level for such an initiative. Just 3.1% say their business is worried about onboarding apprentices remotely.

Marketers list numerous reasons why their brand does not run a marketing apprenticeship scheme. These range from the fact their business is too small to there is no budget to develop a programme or the fact they already have a graduate scheme in place.

Others admit their business has not considered such an initiative, or they are “too busy” to invest in an apprenticeship scheme. While some say a programme is in development or their company already has schemes in place beyond marketing, one marketer claimed the “standard of applicants was poor” when they researched apprenticeships.

According to another marketer: “We looked at an apprenticeship scheme, but nothing fitted and it was difficult for us to be supported. We did try.”

Currently, just 25.1% of the 4,463 marketers surveyed say their company has a marketing apprenticeship, while 17% aren’t sure whether their business does or not.

Despite the low prevalence of programmes within marketing, 43.7% of marketers believe apprenticeships are a good route into marketing.

Some businesses are beginning to test the water. Last year, Procter & Gamble welcomed its first cohort of four degree apprentices into the UK commercial function, two of whom kicked off the three-year scheme in the marketing department.

Meanwhile, Amazon introduced 13 new apprenticeship schemes for 2022 earlier this month, including one in marketing, and BMW is recruiting for four candidates to take part in a Level 6 apprenticeship spanning marketing and PR. Samsung UK is also on the hunt for a budding marketer to take part in its pilot apprenticeship programme.

No value?

Marketing apprenticeships are twice as likely to run in large organisations than within SMEs (businesses with 250 employees and under), according to our analysis.

Just 15.8% of marketers in SMEs say their firm has such as scheme, versus a third (33.3%) of their peers in large businesses. This is despite the fact 43.9% of marketers in SMEs and 44% in large companies agree apprenticeships are a good route into marketing.

Just 20.3% of B2B marketers work at a brand offering a marketing apprenticeship, as do 24.8% of B2C marketers and 29% in businesses that mix B2B and B2C.

A further 43.9% of marketers at B2B firms think apprenticeships offer a good route into marketing, alongside 45.1% in B2C companies and 42.8% in firms which operate in B2B and B2C markets.

The 2022 Agenda: Embracing the possibilities of apprenticeships

The statistics illustrate a troubling trend towards businesses failing to appreciate the value of a marketing apprenticeship programme, coupled with persistent fears about the complexity involved and an inability to get senior leadership on board.

Brands not seeing the value in a marketing apprenticeship is the main reason given for not having a scheme, regardless of size of business or whether the brand operates in a B2B or B2C market.

Some 21% of marketers in SMEs say their business doesn’t currently see the value in a marketing apprenticeship, with 12.6% adding it is too complicated to develop a programme. A further 5.9% say they can’t get buy-in at the highest level.

Despite being twice as likely as SMEs to operate a marketing apprenticeship, 21.7% of larger businesses don’t currently see the value in such initiatives. Compared to SMEs, 7.2% of large companies say it is too complicated to develop a programme, although 7.3% report not being able to buy-in at senior levels.

In B2B businesses, 23.9% of marketers say their brand doesn’t currently see the value in marketing apprenticeships, while 8.3% claim developing a programme is too complicated and 7.3% can’t get senior level support.

The picture is similar in B2C brands, 20.6% of whom admit the business doesn’t currently see the value in launching a marketing apprenticeship. Developing such a programme is deemed too complicated by 10.8% of B2C brands, with 6.9% saying they cannot get buy-in at the highest level.

In firms that span B2B and B2C, 19% of marketers say the business fails to see the value of a marketing apprenticeship. Some 12.3% deem such a programme to be too complicated and 5.8% are unable to get senior buy-in.

From small businesses to global multinationals, if issues surrounding the appreciation and perception of marketing apprenticeships persist it is inevitable the industry will miss out on a vast array of diverse talent.