CATEGORY: Character-based development | AUTHOR: Racheal Smith

Learning and experience hand in hand

Apprenticeships offer a win for employees and trainees alike — fresh new talent getting paid while becoming the best professional for their sector.

So why is uptake for apprenticeships on the decline?

The opportunity

One of the greatest potential benefits of an apprenticeship scheme, as discovered in a survey by Campaign, is the opportunity to mould young people “into well-rounded employee(s), learning directly from the best: you.” In short, businesses can put theory and practise side-by-side and evolve a qualified specialist tailor-made for their organisation.

Business leaders can not only benefit from the levy, a fund for training the apprentice, but from the opportunity to draw from a diverse talent base and shape that talent for their future workforce. 

The blocker

The pain point preventing apprenticeships from reaching their potential for employees is the disconnect between the off-the-job and the on-the-job training. 20% of an apprentices’ time is spent with a training provider learning the theory. For those sectors where there is a fee-earning model, the loss of employees for a fifth of the time is costly. While there is meant to be a crossover between training provider and employer, there is a general disquiet at the waste of time of a “college day”.

There is a need for flexibility on the part of businesses and those tasked with providing the learning, which currently feels insurmountable.

The Solution

What if the 20% of off-the-job training could be accrued in situ? Imagine learning the fundamentals of behaviours for a profession while in the workplace. Not only is this pragmatically a great solution, as you have your team member on-site, but it is theoretically better too. Where better to learn the behaviours of a career than around people with a significant amount of collective experience?

The false separation of classroom and workplace is a barrier and an ineffective delivery model for the behaviour standards.

Entelechy Academy’s structure for learning is based on the actualisation of learning. 

While intellectualism has its value, there is much to be learned experientially. Valuing the experiments and reflections done on the job allows the apprentice to continue working while learning.

Imagine being presented with a critical idea about collaboration. The apprentice is inspired by this idea presented by the training provider. 

But then what?

There needs to be an encouragement to action. The apprentice can take this idea into the workplace and see how it works for them. With some reflection and guidance to course-correct by assessors and guides. When designing our andragogy, we were conscious of the value of rewarding apprentices for the continued development while working. Why shouldn’t these experiments in being better count towards off-the-job training?

Better still, Entelechy’s focus on behaviours, or character as we define it, deals with a tricky Ofsted standard in the most common-sense way. Where else should you learn how to behave than in the workplace itself?

We also felt this valued what is best about the apprenticeship scheme for employers. By offering a structured program of character-based development, we are helping shape a future workforce that shows up for work each day looking to be their best. 

DMA Talent undertook research into apprenticeships and found they are “normally recruited based on their soft skills (eagerness to learn, passion and so on) and personality, rather than their technical skills or experience in the sector/industry.” (Campaign, March 2021) Therefore, by focusing on character, which underpins these soft skills, we provide yet another win for the employer. We help them develop the qualities that were so important to that business during recruitment. 

Practical and effective

Common sense rarely drives educational theory. Usually, the educationalists want to keep the purity of the theory – making sure the learner understands first and then is sent off to apply. We believe that understanding and application are more potent if they work hand in hand. Let’s inspire the apprentices to want to be better and then help them reflect on how they could be even better still. And collect time in the workplace for the 20% of time devoted to learning theory.


Entelechy Academy
21 Navigation Business Village Navigation Way, Ashton-On-Ribble,
Preston, Lancashire,
England, PR2 2YP
Company number 12526435