Apprenticeships have grown in popularity over the past decade, with businesses offering more individuals the opportunity to join at entry level and train on the job. Not only are they great for the apprentice, but they also benefit the businesses, growing a loyal and engaged workforce, argues Paul Graham.

Long gone are the days of insisting that individuals have to go to university in order to achieve success in the workplace. It has become less of an alternative and more of an active decision. Young people are making the choice to side-step university and enter the workplace earlier. It is not for everyone, but the breaking of the taboo around apprenticeships is great to see.

We should be celebrating the different and diverse routes that are available to enter businesses. Most businesses nowadays have diversity and inclusion efforts sat at the heart of their business and apprenticeship schemes are great at ensuring you have a level playing field when it comes to accessibility.

It is a win, win!

Apprenticeship programmes are good for business too so it really is a win, win. According to the Government’s apprenticeships website, 78 percent of employers said apprenticeship schemes helped them improve productivity and 74 percent said apprenticeships enhanced the quality of their product or service. I know from experience at Britvic that we have had hugely positive feedback about the apprentices within our business.

Rather than just give you my opinion on apprenticeships, I wanted to spend a bit of time telling you the story of Millie so that you can hear it from her perspective as I think it serves the point perfectly. Millie is currently on the four-year Multiskilled/Mechatronics Maintenance Engineer Apprenticeship at Britvic. She joined us when she was just 16 years old which is a huge undertaking for a young person. Not only was she taking on a highly skilled role, but she was entering one of the biggest soft drinks businesses in the UK.

While she continues to learn the key hands-on experience to become fully qualified, the skills and opportunities she’s gained do not just lie within her qualification. She recently shared her thoughts on the apprenticeship and I thought it was such a strong case study for why businesses should offer apprenticeships. She said: “As Britvic’s youngest engineer, starting my apprenticeship was a huge challenge but it has made me much more confident, which has been one of the biggest benefits for me. My apprenticeship has also given me the chance to take part in many events to promote females in engineering including International Women’s Day, something I’m very proud of. I have also been able to take part in careers events to promote the apprenticeship scheme and help young people who are unsure about the next steps they want to take in their career.”

Some advice to take forward

Millie also gave some brilliant advice to those considering an apprenticeship which I wanted to share. She said: “My biggest piece of advice would be don’t be put off at the thought of starting something completely new. If you don’t have any experience, then that won’t hold you back. All that is expected is a positive willing attitude and interest in the industry you’re going into. Enjoy the experience!”

What does this tell us? Apprenticeships are not just about learning a profession; they are about developing skills for life. I know this is the theme for this year’s National Apprenticeship Week – and rightly so! The success stories like Millie’s are what make me proud to work for a business like Britvic that is offering individuals the opportunity to aspire, grow and achieve.


Paul Graham is the Managing Director at Britvic.