Fresh eyes

PR apprenticeship scheme is the right move

PR apprenticeship scheme is the right move
Simon Turner Freshfield Managing Director

Written by Simon Turner,
Chief Executive & Group Client Director at Freshfield

The first Government-funded PR apprenticeship scheme for non-graduates announced recently (to be run by the PRCA) should be applauded throughout the industry. Hopefully, it will result in a higher calibre of young professionals coming through the ranks.

Sadly, the current system involves too many PR graduates coming straight from university into the working environment without basic skills. True, employers have a duty to train and develop their people in the workplace, but much more should be done to prepare graduates for the technically demanding world of PR and communications.

The solution could lie in a post-graduate training programme focusing on the development of practical skills and knowledge. It could operate in a similar way to the one for young solicitors, who must complete a training contract before becoming a fully-qualified solicitor.

Just like the accountancy and legal sectors, PR is a professional service. However, there are no formal entries to market, either as a person or agency. This means it is essential for the industry to find more and better routes to professionalise and improve standards.

The new apprenticeship scheme for non-graduates is a welcome move in the right direction; practice-based training qualifications for graduates could be another. But we must continue to innovate and explore fresh options, especially at a time when clients are rightly demanding extra value and we want to be seen as their professional partners rather than service vendors.

We joined the PRCA in 2010 as a voluntary investment to professionalise our own business. The PRCA Consultancy Management Standard is an effective way for PR and communications professionals to demonstrate their commitment to delivering quality services. It’s an obligation that the industry as a whole needs to support more wholeheartedly.

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