Guest Blog - Nurturing talent with the support of the Association of Apprentices


The Association of Apprentices (AoA) was created to connect apprentices in the UK for peer support, community and shared learning, elements that are vital to apprenticeships. However, often apprentices can’t access these valuable resources because they work for smaller employers and may be the only apprentice.

AoA works with small and medium-sized employers to support their apprenticeship offering and help apprentices to successfully complete their programmes.

EDGE Creative, a Birmingham-based digital marketing agency, is a SME where apprentices play a key role in their business, helping them to evolve with an ever-changing digital marketing landscape. Working with AoA allows them to offer an additional support network to their apprentices, alongside access to events and extra resources and training.


How EDGE Creative works with apprentices

EDGE Creative are passionate about developing the next generation of marketing talent, utilising apprenticeships to provide budding marketers with opportunities to learn, grow and build key industry skills whilst working in an established role.

As a fully integrated agency, they provide apprentices with opportunities to work within multiple departments and on different aspects of marketing through shadowing team members, learning from colleagues and working on client projects. This experience supports their apprentices with discovering the area they want to progress in, as well as helping them to build transferable professional skills.

As Louise Pinnington, Creative Director at EDGE Creative explains:

“We want our apprentices to gain real experience in working on live projects directly with clients. From this, they develop key skills, including communication, confidence, presentation, time management, and budgeting. All of these contribute to the development of our business and offer support to other team members who can delegate tasks to ease their workload.”

At the end of the process, when their apprentices gain their industry recognised qualification, they are ready to take the next career step and specialise within their business.


Apprenticeship support from AoA

The support of AoA is a vital asset for apprentices to have, acting as a support network that helps fill the gap between employers and apprentices.

As the Association is made up of current and former apprentices, their team members benefit from having access to relevant information and individuals who have been in that position themselves who can advise apprentices on all aspects of their work from off-the-job training to end point assessments or developing soft skills.

Sometimes as a junior member of the team, it can be daunting to ask certain questions to your employer, so having an independent network away from your current organisation can really help ease the anxiety of apprentices.

The Association also host networking events for apprentices, which provide a space to meet one another, learn and share their experiences with other like-minded people in their position from all over the UK. It is at these events that perspectives are also shared along with new ideas.

AoA also provides access to other business leaders and keynote speakers for even more useful insight.


How EDGE Creative have used AoA’s resources

EDGE Creative’s apprentices often get involved with the networking events that the Association hosts and regularly use the access to additional resources to further assist their development.

As Karen O’Donovan, Client Services Director at EDGE Creative said:

“As an SME, it is incredible to have this huge support network and library of resources which is designed to assist the development of our apprentices.

The AoA provides access to a wide variety of webinars and on-demand content that covers both topics relevant to the industry we work in, but also content centred around their personal and professional development. This includes important transferable qualities such as communication, time management and teamwork.

Not only do they benefit from this learning as individuals, but it has a positive impact on our business as we are creating efficient processes and building a strong workplace culture.”


What EDGE Creative’s apprentices have to say

Oliver – Digital Marketing Assistant

“My apprenticeship with EDGE Creative has been an amazing experience. I’ve been given opportunities to work in all areas of marketing, from social media to SEO and web development, and the whole team has accommodated me every step of the way.

I feel more confident knowing that there is also the support network that AoA provides, where there are other people who are in a similar position to me or have been through the process themselves that I can lean on for advice, or just general support.

Learning in a fast-paced environment is unique, challenging, and rewarding. It’s an amazing feeling to see the work you’ve done get published and make a difference for our clients, but it’s all amplified by the incredible support of the experienced team around me.”


Irina – Digital Marketing Assistant

“The support during my apprenticeship has genuinely been incredible. With their guidance and the teaching of everyone around me, I’ve been able to get involved with a huge variety of projects across several industries and try my hand in many different areas of marketing.

As a member of the AoA, I am also lucky to have access to the AoA network and resources which I can utilise to help me develop my skills and grow – and will have access to long after my apprenticeship is complete.”

See more about EDGE Creative on their website.

Jan Richardson-Wilde

CEO, Occupational Awards Limited

Jan is the CEO of Occupational Awards Limited, a Director of the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink and an FE College Governor. She has over 35 years’ experience in the education sector in strategic and operational management of training programmes with colleges, private training providers, local authorities the voluntary sector and not for profit organisations. Jan has previously been a board member of the Learning and Skills Council, chair of the North Yorkshire Training Provider network and Vice-Chair of Yorkshire Coast College and a Governor of the Grimsby Institute for Further and Higher Education. She has extensive experience of education policy, apprenticeships, qualification, and curriculum development as well as business improvement.

Jan joined OAL in 2019, a leading non-profit industry-focused Awarding and End-Point Assessment Organisation, supporting a wide range of employers and of key stakeholders to succeed and surpass expectations. Jan is committed to continuous improvement and enthusiastic about improving the effectiveness, impact and quality of apprenticeships, education, and training in the UK and internationally. She has a wide range of experience of working in a collaborative context with employers and training providers to develop End Point Assessment, apprenticeships, and a wide range of vocational programmes.

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