Are apprenticeships a threat to PR degrees?

English: Graduation hugs

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I am an advocate of apprenticeship schemes and believe that the introduction of PR apprentice schemes can only be beneficial for the industry. It would seem I am not the only fan with this year’s PRWeek census reporting 94% of agency MDs wanting such a scheme and a staggering 92% saying they would consider employing an apprentice.

They are completely right in their thinking, apprenticeship schemes enable organisations to employ low cost workers and train them to be suit the needs of an organisation, this is instead of paying for a more expensive graduate from university who will still need to adapt to your organisation.

It is also a very appealing option for young people with the PRCA in partnership with Pearson in Practice working on plan to provide three-year long on-the-job training, qualifications and work experience to non-graduates from diverse backgrounds. This offers an entry route into a PR career to individuals with the skills and passion required in the industry but who otherwise may not have been able to afford a degree at the increased price.

With the option of an apprenticeship the length of a standard PR degree it makes university seem a dramatically less appealing option. With the choice of being paid to gain the skills and experience the industry demands or amassing considerable debt to obtain a degree with which you may still be unemployable, the better option should be obvious.

Is this a threat to PR degrees then? There are a number of very well designed, developed and respected PR degree courses in the UK and I highly doubt that an apprenticeship scheme would kill these off, however I do think it is important for degree courses to ensure that they are offering students employability skills, particularly in light of Marshall Manson’s recent comments on PR degrees.

Another issue is how current PR undergraduates should react, should we be concerned? Perhaps, apprentices are initially significantly cheaper with the advantage of learning organisation specific skills. This should simply encourage undergraduates to work harder to gain a range of transferable skills which can be utilised over a number of organisations.

Overall I think this is another important development in the PR industry. Many PR professionals are former journalists, but with journalism being an increasingly difficult career path younger PR professionals come from different routes such as studying PR as their main discipline or graduate schemes. Apprenticeships are simply another development in entry routes into the PR industry, and one I would say is very positive.

What is your opinion on PR apprenticeships? Do they pose a threat to the PR degree?

Wordle: PR Apprenticeships

5 comments
  1. I’ve been banging on about how the industry needs Apprenticeships for ages now and agree this is a universally positive step to broaden diversity in the industry.

    And they shouldn’t be a threat to PR degrees – providing these degrees are developed more closely with employers. Again the PRCA is making much of the running on this (http://bit.ly/ugIya9).

    In truth, the PR industry is big and varied enough to welcome many paths to entry (as I set out here: http://bit.ly/vNOlbX).

    • Rachel said:

      Thank you for your comments. Great links supplied, thanks!

  2. Good and timely post, Rachel. (I wish I’d commissioned this for Behind the Spin!)

    To answer your question, PR apprenticeships are a threat to PR degree courses – but only a minor one.

    PR degrees face much more imminent threats in the new world of higher university fees. One threat is from the institutions themselves (PR is typically not taught at the stronger universities); another is from the students (will enough AAB students chose PR?).

    • Rachel said:

      I think this is a brilliant reply. In the ever-changing world it is interesting to see how PR education adapts!

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