How GLO’s degree apprentices apply academic training to day-to-day work

Combining academic training and practical experience - GLO's degree apprentices reflect on the effectiveness of the Apprenticeship Programme.

In September 2020, we took on our first apprentice through the digital marketing degree apprenticeship programme. Since then, knowledge has been rich, work has been high-class, and goals have been smashed. GLO’s degree apprentices have really made this their own!

Beth Craig, Level 6 Digital Marketer Degree Apprenticeship BSc (Hons), says,
“I truly feel that this is the best way to pick up even more complex skills and knowledge, especially in an actively evolving digital environment.”

The digital marketing degree apprenticeship programme is proven to be both beneficial for our staff, as well as, our business. Let’s find out why.

Meet GLO’s talented degree apprentices

Callum Marshall – Level 6 Digital Marketer Degree Apprenticeship BSc (Hons), Anglia Ruskin University

Callum has been part of the GLO team since November 2020 and started his degree apprenticeship in January this year. With day-to-day duties revolving around SEO and PPC ad campaigns, some days he may be auditing and improving on-page/off-page SEO for our clients’ websites; and on others, he may be setting up, managing and improving PPC campaigns on Google Ads. Alongside these, Callum also contributes to the keyword research for new websites and assists the content team with their keyword research. As well as, delivering expertly timed one-liners where necessary.

Digital marketing is such a dynamic, changeable field with a broad scope of disciplines under the umbrella; you can’t be complacent at any stage. If you want to engage your brain while helping businesses succeed, this is the field for you!

How have you used your course for work?

“There’s been a lot of excellent ways that my course has been immediately beneficial to my role. We have learned about different management styles and leadership techniques, which has been brilliant for enhancing effective interaction within our team and has also given an academic basis for why some of the things are done the way they are at GLO. It’s kind of like the theory behind the scenes of behind the scenes!

There’s also been a lot of emphasis at uni on the fundamentals of marketing, digital marketing and organisational structure. This has been invaluable in forming both context and a ‘bigger picture’ of the whole marketing field, and again, understanding on a fundamental level the why of things, not just the how.

Finally, as a result of doing a degree in digital marketing alongside my role, I’ve benefited from ‘sneak-peaks’ of digital marketing tools and techniques, which has made both, learning how to, and implementing new techniques or aspects of my role significantly easier, because I have learned some of the academic theory beforehand.

It’s brilliant to see immediate results from an academic qualification in your day-to-day role. Sometimes, learning about academic practises and theories in an institution like a school, college or university can seem almost irrelevant (how many times have we all asked ourselves “when am I going to need to know that?”), but that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case with the digital marketing degree apprenticeship!”

How has work helped your course?

“Just as I have been able to benefit from the digital marketing degree in my day-to-day role, by studying in parallel to being an SEO consultant, the reverse is also true. There are many ways that my work has assisted with learning from Anglia Ruskin University.

Every day at GLO sees me working within the fields of SEO, PPC advertising and writing content. By learning about these in a professional context, and getting to practise them every day, it provides me with excellent foreknowledge about topics within these fields when they come up in university tutorials and assignments. This is beneficial because it means that at least the basis is already there when it comes to learning, which means I can assimilate the knowledge further in class.

In addition to this, an ability to multitask, prioritise and manage my workload is vital as an SEO consultant. This naturally lends itself really well to completing a part-time, distance-learning degree alongside my full-time role, and all the joys and tasks of life that happen in between!

Furthermore, with my experience in working as part of a digital marketing agency increasing every day, it means that when I learn new techniques or information on my course, I can immediately relate it to a real-world context. Personally, I feel that this helps me assimilate information faster, retain academic information for longer, and plan for future scenarios where I might use this information.

Finally, like all of my contemporaries on the digital marketing degree apprenticeship with Anglia Ruskin University, working alongside study has made for the raising of interesting talking points and perspectives on topics that come up in workshops and tutorials. You can get validation for what it is you do, see how other people in other organisations do things and make a note of the stuff you like for future reference. It’s been great to meet many like-minded people, and equally great to hear what they have to say.”

Beth Craig – Level 6 Digital Marketer Degree Apprenticeship BSc (Hons), Anglia Ruskin University

Beth joined the GLO team as a degree apprentice in September 2020. Since she started, Beth’s specialist role has been SEO copywriting. Whilst actively building her education on all areas of digital marketing on quieter days, most of Beth’s time is spent preparing long-form content for our clients; researching, writing up websites from scratch, putting together articles, or in meetings.

The role gives me the perfect opportunity to combine my passion for completing work within a real environment, applying theory, and producing positive, tangible results.

At the end of the last semester, Beth was nominated to complete an extracurricular IDM certificate in digital marketing; and she smashed it!

How have you used your course for work?

“Callum has summed this up excellently! It’s early days for both of us, but to give a bit of context, our last few modules have consisted of topics relating to work-based learning (which were particularly helpful when entering the role), organisational management, the fundamentals of marketing, and, most recently, campaign planning. Each of these topics has given me further insight with regard to both my role and the organisation as a whole. There’s been a significant opportunity within our assignments to analyse GLO itself, alongside our own performance as individuals. This has really assisted in my ability to set and achieve realistic targets across all aspects of work and personal development and has opened doors for discussion with our managing director John as to how we can best operate.

In more recent modules, we’ve begun to get into marketing itself a little more, and I’ve immensely enjoyed being able to attach solid theory to my work. Being able to compare and contrast what I’ve learned as part of modules, and in my outside reading, to real-world applications and results has given me a significant confidence boost with regard to decision making.

In addition, many of our lecturers have taken the time to discuss the differences between the digital marketing theory taught, and traditional marketing; and, along the same lines, have encouraged us to investigate integrated marketing campaigns. This, combined with the niche strategies explored in our online workshops, has given me a broader field of view and thought as to the techniques used within, and applications for our existing services.

Being able to apply rather large concepts, and otherwise solely theoretical coursework, to a real working environment, in which my choices have a significant impact, has been the key to consolidating my learning.”

How has work helped your course?

“I feel that taking on such a large and independent role at GLO has given me a significant head-start on my work at university; particularly with a number of modules in later years set to focus on my specialisms. I’ve approached many lectures, discussions, and assignments with an existing familiarity with topics. This has given me confidence in completing both graded and ungraded work, alongside time to complete further independent reading on theory not necessarily covered in, but highly relevant to the degree, and greatly building upon my knowledge.

In addition, GLO’s commitment to supporting degree apprentices further learning has been really extraordinary. Using their ‘treasure chest’ scheme, they have funded or helped me complete over seven external certified courses in digital marketing and related specialisms in the last year alone. The knowledge gained as a result of these courses has been highly beneficial in both my everyday work and the completion of large scale projects, alongside my coursework.

GLO’s highly productive and professional environment provides me with an excellent space in which to apply and consolidate my knowledge, and I accredit many of my academic achievements to the amount of responsibility and associated practice I’ve been given within my role.”

Why did GLO decide to offer Digital Marketing Apprenticeships?

Finding staff with the right set of skills, and a willingness to continue learning in order to keep up with the evolution of the industry is difficult.

New technologies and ideas are entering the digital marketing industry practically every day and many students completing a purely study-based bachelor’s degree may find that by the end of it, what they learnt is no longer as applicable as it was at the start of their course; or that it’s difficult for them to connect the theories with real-life examples. Equally, those that have practical experience in the field may lack the theoretical knowledge to understand the bigger picture.

The strong academic training that the apprentices receive in their respective higher education institutions can be applied all throughout their degree in the work that they do here at GLO. This helps them to assimilate their knowledge and gives them a chance to engage in experiential learning.

We believe that offering opportunities for aspiring digital marketers to enter this exciting, yet competitive industry is a way for the company to contribute to the future prosperity of the young generation and economy at large. That is why we are now recruiting to fill another digital marketing degree apprenticeship position.

How does the Apprenticeship Programme work?

The Apprenticeship Programmes, which is the scheme all of GLO’s degree apprentices have gone through, are funded from the contributions made by the government and us, the employer. They offer people of any age the opportunity to learn and train for a specific job by combining work and study. At the end of it, they will have completed a top-level course and receive recognised qualifications, some equivalent to bachelor and masters degrees! Being able to gain practical experience, while at the same time earning money is the most optimal setup for those looking to start a new career, or shift to another industry.

The programme requires apprentices to study for at least 20% of their working hours, meaning the majority of their time is spent applying what they learn to real-life situations. In this way, whether the apprentice chooses to stay with the employer they were with for the duration of the apprenticeship or not, they are prepared for the current job market where more and more employers favour hands-on experience.

There are hundreds of apprenticeships available to choose from, covering multiple disciplines and offering different levels of qualifications. It can take between one and 6 years to complete an apprenticeship depending on which one you choose, what level it is and your previous experience. Currently, our two degree apprentices are both on the same program, but there is a programme to suit everyone’s needs!

GLO’s degree apprentices benefit from blended learning, which is being delivered online by highly experienced tutors, many of whom worked in the marketing industry itself prior to moving into academia. This is advantageous to the apprentices as they’re learning from those who are able to bring in theoretical knowledge and frameworks, as well as real-life examples.

The future of the Apprenticeship Programmes

When the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK in March 2020 those who were at the time ready to enter employment found themselves in a difficult position. The job market suddenly shrunk, and the government was faced with the issue of managing an imbalance in the supply and demand of people looking for work and jobs available to them. Hundreds of graduates and school leavers were raring to begin paid work but there were not enough jobs to accommodate them all.

The turbulence that the pandemic brought made the apprenticeship programme particularly vulnerable. A survey carried out back in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, revealed that out of the firms who were running an apprenticeship programme at the time, on average, only 40% of those programmes were able to carry on as normal, with the rest facing learning disruptions. This raised fears that after the crisis, there would be fewer apprenticeships on offer and fewer businesses willing to provide them.

To simultaneously support businesses in the creation of new workplaces, and job seekers in successfully securing a paid position, as part of its March 2021 budget, the government announced that it is upping the support by injecting a further £126 million to enable 40,000 traineeships and doubling the employer incentives. This comes after £1.6 billion stimuli dedicated to boosting work search, skills and apprenticeships, which was revealed back in July 2020.

With this additional government funding, the future of Apprenticeship Programmes feels a lot more secure and enables more individuals to train in the field they’d like to work in. It equally incentivizes more businesses to employ eager apprentices who bring a fresh outlook and new ideas. We believe that GLO’s degree apprentices are a true testament to the effectiveness of this scheme!

How to apply for GLO’s Apprenticeship Programmes?

We advertise our apprenticeship positions on Indeed and LinkedIn. The application process varies depending on the level and type of apprenticeship programme it is. Our 4-year Digital Marketing Degree apprenticeships required candidates to record verbal answers prior to having an interview. Other courses required applicants to only submit a CV and a cover letter in order to potentially be shortlisted for an interview. Depending on the role, in the past, we have also given shortlisted applicants a test project to complete before a specified deadline.

The application process is always clearly laid out in the job advertisement and will be reiterated to you in any further communication.

Some of the things we’d like the future GLO’s degree apprentices to demonstrate include:

  • Willingness to learn continuously
  • Ability to work autonomously and in collaboration with other team members
  • Confidence to ask questions and ask for help when needed
  • Determination to put your 100% in and produce work of the highest standard possible
  • Eagerness to contribute and take ownership of your tasks

For more information about the different Apprenticeship Programmes available, visit the Further Education and Skills page on the government website. And if you believe your future is in digital marketing, learn about the current digital marketing apprenticeships on the GLO website.

We’ve been so impressed with the value GLO’s degree apprentices have brought to the company, and would highly recommend business owners to consider employing young talent through this initiative. Not only to add a valuable asset to their team but also to enable those individuals to launch their career with the best of both worlds; practical and academic training.

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