Apprentices – super heroes or super cheap resources?

ApprenticesWe all know the idiom, “you win some, you lose some.” Well in recent months, this has really started to resonate with me.

When you start up in business, you know not everyone is your client and expect when you pitch or tender for work, that you will not always be successful on every occasion. However, with this in mind, nothing prepares you for how it feels when you’ve done all the hard work, attended various meetings, written and submitted a proposal, had many conversations with the client and answered lots of their questions, only to be usurped by an apprentice. Yes you heard it right. Time to forget the value of your experience and knowledge, the client wants to throw it all away on an unknown quantity!

Something in the water?

I thought that this was an unusual decision, after all the client has the right to work with whoever they want to, but having shared this story with a colleague, who also runs their own business, she was also preparing herself to hand over one of her marketing accounts to an apprentice too. So what am I missing?

Are apprentices the unsung heroes of marketing? Are they sufficiently experienced and skilled to understand the business world and take on a new specialism? And how long will it take them to get up to speed and be of actual use. Or as I feel the need to point out, is it easier to have someone on the inside, rather than outsourcing the work, so you can remain firmly in control?

Apprenticeships are fab!

I’m not knocking apprenticeships. They are amazing programmes designed to help people gain vital skills on the job, plus if the latest research is anything to go by, more than 8 out of 10 customers prefer to buy from companies which employ apprentices.

But an apprentice is a raw talent which needs to be moulded into someone who can really contribute to the future success of your business; you need to invest in them, not only financially but resource-wise too. Plus they tend to be young and very naïve about the commercial world, so there is an element of nurturing that needs to happen as well. Plus, you can’t expect an apprentice to run before they can walk, so I would expect it to be many months before they are paying for themselves!

What’s wrong with outsourcing?

So with all this in mind, why are businesses who are trying to make it to the next level in business, whether that’s accelerate growth or development, wanting to make their lives more difficult and bog themselves down with training etc. rather than outsourcing to well- established, proven organisations who not only bring objectively, but instant efficiency too?

Money, money money!

I think that the answer may well be solely down to money and the notion that you can make significant savings over time. Or perhaps it’s just to do with the fact that some businesses are not as strategic as they would like to appear and have lost sight of the advantages that someone who is fully trained and immersed in their subject can instantly provide. Whatever the reasons, I wish them luck. I only hope they find someone who is interested in social media and has the maturity, creativity, tenacity and enthusiasm to make it work for them. Because surprise surprise, it’s not something you can pick up quickly having done a course or read a book!

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