As National Apprenticeship Week continues, Pip Wilkins, CEO of the British Franchise Association (BFA), says that franchising is enabling young people to learn essential skills through apprenticeships, letting them learn and work and setting them up for life
Lots of people don’t know what they want to do when they leave school, with many perhaps heading off to university as a way of delaying thinking about what they want to do while getting more qualifications. For those that know college, university, or sixth form is not for them, they may feel they have to evaluate (and quite quickly), what they want to do for the foreseeable future. As we all know, employers continue to prioritise experience above all else, so getting on the career ladder can be very difficult.
Apprenticeships are one area which, for me, ticks all the boxes for a younger person who perhaps does not wish to further continue their studies in education.
They can be a great way to find your passion, learn valuable skills and build relationships. And it’s not just the apprentices themselves that reap the rewards; taking on apprentices is also just as valuable to businesses as they are able to teach the next generation and provide a springboard for potential careers in the sector of work. The franchising industry has always been synonymous with learning and support, much like an apprenticeship. Good franchises encourage supportive systems and being able to develop their network, evident from the 95% of franchisees who were satisfied with their franchisor, according to the 2018 bfa NatWest Franchise Survey. 18% of all franchisees are now under 30, a figure tenfold of when the stats first came out, and the industry continues to shift to become a young person’s game. But it’s not just franchisees that benefit – many franchise systems offer apprenticeship opportunities, too.
An industry pushing for the younger generation
Many franchisors and franchisees take on apprentices as a way of introducing a younger generation into franchising and receive the help they need for the business to grow. It’s also a great way for young people to see how diverse franchising is, with businesses to find in all industries, from food and drink to pet services, from fitness to education, cleaning services to sports classes for kids and everything in between. There is guaranteed to be something available to pique the interest of a young person just embarking on their career.
Apprenticeships enabling people to live their professional dreams
When Jack Fisher left school in 2015, he set about looking for an apprenticeship: “Most of my friends went off to uni,” Jack says, “but I didn’t want to go through four more years of studying. I was ready to start working and earn money for myself!” He found it wasn’t as easy as he’d have hoped, “I applied for a couple of apprenticeships, but I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to rush into something I might regret,” he explains.
Luckily, he met David and Liz Murray, a couple who started their InXpress Coventry franchise in 2008, a courier service, whose business eventually reached a point where more people were needed. “We really liked the idea of apprenticeships – the chance to develop a role tailored to our business needs, and at the same time help an apprentice develop while they earn a formal qualification,” Liz explains.
“Liz and I have an ethos of working with people we can invest in,” David says. “We’ve both experienced working for large corporations, and this is our way to give back.”
Learning inside out
The apprenticeship allowed Jack to learn about the company and practically implement everything to help him get hands-on experience. He has also been able to apply what he has learnt from his accountancy studies to the business. “We wanted to ensure Jack had a full experience of the business, so he was trained in all areas, from answering calls, to dealing with customers, to inputting invoices,” explains Liz.
With his apprenticeship drawing to a close, Jack considered what path he should take: “When I finished my two apprenticeships, I had a couple of options to consider. I could either go on to do the next level NVQ, or find full-time employment, but what happened next really shocked me.”
David and Liz decided to made Jack the co-owner and director of their second franchise in Stour Valley. Liz explains: “Buying a second franchise was a win-win! We keep Jack, who runs our business, plus we expand, while helping him to grow.”
The fact Jack has been able to get such a position just four years after embarking on an apprenticeship in InXpress is of course a lot down to his hard work, but without initially being given responsibilities and opportunities to learn the day-to-day operations of the business, the opportunity would never have come about. He says, “I honestly didn’t think the option to run my own franchise would ever have come around so soon! David and Liz are so supportive, which helps massively.”
National Apprenticeship Week
Apprenticeships are truly a way of building experience, completing important studies and forging relationships. For those who believe an apprenticeship is the path for them, National Apprenticeship Week runs from the 4th to the 8th of March and is there to help those find their passion and career. I hope that the franchising industry continues its push in helping the younger generation learn and provide opportunities for growth and development.