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Three Years & 150 Jobs on – Happy Birthday, The Juice Academy!

Three years ago today, The Juice Academy opened its doors and started preparing for its first ever cohort of shiny, young social media apprentices.

From a standing start in March 2013, we (literally) rewrote the Digital & Social Media Marketing apprenticeship framework doc, put together the lesson plan, created the lessons, trained the trainers, created the logo (of course), recruited and briefed the employers, compiled a ‘boot camp assessment day’ and invited 50 bright young things (shortlisted down from 200) to compete for our first ever 15 jobs – all by July! Phew!

Since then we’ve recruited another 10 (soon to be 11) cohorts of apprentices, plus one of graduates, and learned so much.

So on the monumental (cough!) occasion of our third anniversary, I thought I’d share my key learnings/thoughts…

-It’s blooming hard to reach young people – we can do it because of our experience and expertise, but I hear all the time how other training providers struggle

-The red tape around apprenticeships makes it very difficult for employers to do what we’ve done – and what the Government claims it wants more of – to set up our own programme and really get on board with the apprenticeship swell

-Apprenticeships still have a long way to go – while the ‘brand’ of apprenticeships has improved MASSIVELY over the last decade, with many more employers buying into the opportunities these young people bring, schools, parents and the young people themselves are still not fully getting it, and much work needs to be done to change this – especially among schools

-The Government/departments/funders are still not REALLY listening to what employers want and need – there are still decisions being made (including the infamous ‘levy’) without proper consultation, which could stymie the growth and improvements that have been achieved recently

-Something needs to be done for graduates – these are also bright young people and they also need our help to get on the career ladder…but don’t get me started on that!

But all in all, it’s been a rewarding and enriching journey – one I’m personally glad I made – and, even given all of the above concerns and caveats, one which I would – and frequently do – recommend to others.

Apprentices bring diversity, energy, enthusiasm and a fresh approach to the workforce – things which every quality business constantly strives to achieve from and for its team and its future.

So, if you’re not already on board, jump in – the water’s lovely!

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