As National Apprenticeship Week draws to a close, at Debate Mate we want to take a moment to say: we are such big fans of apprenticeships!
We very much admire them for two key reasons:
1. They provide an accessible and immediate route to top companies for young people who don’t want to, for whatever reason, go to university.
2. They are forcing companies to think even more intelligently and creatively about how they train their new intake.
These two reasons fall perfectly in the centre of Debate Mate’s social business model.
Let’s start with the first reason – access. Over the last two years, we have piloted Debate Mate Plus – an advanced debating and careers programme for students in Years 11-13. We have designed a programme – initially in London but looking to expand – that brings small groups of Debate Mate students into a room with professionals from a range of industries, from Deloitte to Deliveroo, Coutts Bank to the UK Government. Students can ask genuine questions, receive genuine responses, and debate the merits of each career path. Naturally, some of our students plan to attend university when they finish school; but increasingly when we speak to our students at these events, they are keen to go straight into the workplace and, crucially, they know that an apprenticeship is the best route for them to pick.
We can see why. Immediate experience in the workplace, straight onto a salary, a feeling of purpose, and the focus associated with employment. At Debate Mate, we believe everyone should have a choice about the direction their careers go in, and apprenticeships give more control to more people. That’s a good thing in our book.
Onto the second reason – industry’s approach to training. There are obvious benefits to recruiting school leavers for companies: early access to talent, enthusiasm, ambition, and loyalty – but there is also a suggestion that apprentices are more ‘raw’ than their Graduate counterparts. Given apprentices may have less experience, you can see where this idea comes from; they’re younger, they haven’t been down the traditional route of attending university, they’re coming at the workplace with a slightly different approach to what employers are used to. It’s easy to see why companies might think it’s more of a recruitment ‘risk’.
In our experience, we have been blown away by the attitude of apprentices. We regularly work with companies that are investing in their apprentices, and the results of their investment are clear to see. They’re curating development programmes that give apprentices the skills to perform in their roles and the mind-set to grow and define them.
Over the last year, Debate Mate have trained apprentices from Deloitte, Clyde & Co, Hiscox, and the Cabinet Office (to name just a few), and we have many more contracts coming up focusing solely on an apprentice cohort.
Debate Mate’s Fundamentals of Communication series has proven to be an excellent foundational training programme for young people entering the workforce. Our curriculum focuses on influencing, challenging, personal brand, and critical thinking – building personal and professional confidence in those that take part. We have extensive experience working with young people, and we know how to create an environment that is fun and supportive, where participants can take risks and learn as they go.
Communication is a personal discipline, and your first job can be such a personal experience. By developing the former, you can make the latter much more successful.
We are proud that companies have identified the Debate Mate skillset as desirable in their apprentice candidates. We have always known that our schools programme is preparing young people for the world of work, but now that the pipeline has shifted from college to the office, it’s even clearer.
The profits we make from our commercial work are redirected into our schools programme, allowing us to provide meaningful skills training to more young people all over the country.
Debate Mate is leading a revolution in education – join us.