To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week 2020, we will be sharing a series of interviews and blogs to demonstrate the value of apprenticeships and apprentices within the workplace.

First up, we talk to iProspect’s Head of Paid Search, and former apprentice, Stephen Waddicor.

Why did you want to employ apprentices within Paid Search?

As a team we have always hired people straight from university or who have done placement years, but we realised that not everyone has the same career path and we didn’t want to miss out on great talent.

A degree is not essential to succeed in our industry and we wanted to build a diverse team who have had different life experiences and have taken different paths in their career. We want to be able to bring different people into the digital industry and give them the opportunity to have a fantastic career without having to go to university.

Are apprenticeships becoming more popular in the industry?

Absolutely. I joined this business many years ago when it was it was a Manchester-based independent agency and there certainly weren't any apprentices in the paid search team.

I re-joined the business in 2016, after working for another Marketing Agency. At that point we had one apprentice in the Paid Search Team, now we have 7 apprentices and former apprentices in our team and 11 across the wider business.

How would you say apprenticeships have changed since you did one?

I did a Business Admin Apprenticeship at Bolton Council. When I started, I didn’t have much responsibility and did a lot of admin tasks. This evolved over the two years but there wasn’t a clear progression plan, nor was there such exciting work to be involved in.

Our apprentices now have so much responsibility and can be running campaigns for clients. Plus, there are apprenticeships across all areas of our business, with roles to suit different people.

We hope that the work they do and the skills they develop help them forge their career in digital media, whatever way area they choose to specialise in.

How do you think apprentices fit into the company as a whole?

Apprentices are so valuable to our business. They are a huge support to the team as well as coming up with new ideas and helping to keep the team working together smoothly.

It’s great changing the demographics and dynamic of our team by welcoming people of different ages and backgrounds. It's always good to have new ideas, working in a business like this you need people who are more connected to different groups in our society, such as the use of social media.

Would you encourage more people to become apprentices? If so, why?

Definitely. When I was at school a lot of people presumed that you would go to university or find any old job. Whereas doing an apprenticeship is as valuable in many ways as having a degree.

If I was to give advice to someone who was 18 and didn't know what to do, I would recommend they do an apprenticeship. It will help them learn valuable skills, give them a qualification that businesses recognise and hopefully put them on the path to having a really good career.

Any advice for people looking to become apprentices?

Start by researching the company. It's not always easy to find out what clients an agency works with, but you can look on the website, read a bit about the company, how many offices they have and when they were founded. It's nice to listen to someone and know they've done that research and do care.

If you are applying for a specific role, such as Paid Search, it is also worth understanding the area. No one is expecting you to know how it works but to have a good idea of what it is and what purpose it serves.

Also, have a list of questions to ask the interviewer yourself because that shows you’re interested if someone is asking a bit about the team or what they would do day to day that comes across really well.