Lincolnshire Heritage Service hosted Rebecca Storr, the first museum-based creative apprentice to complete in England

Case study: creative apprenticeships

Maurice Davies and Helen Wilkinson, 15.04.2011
Lincolnshire Heritage Service has found creative apprenticeships are a cost effective way to diversify the workforce and give people the opportunity to gain new skills and qualifications

Creative apprenticeships enable museums to recruit people for their ability and potential rather than their qualifications and experience. The apprentices are paid for up to two years, they gain on-the-job work experience in a cultural organisation and train at a nearby college.

Apprenticeships appear to be a potential growth area; in the October 2010 spending review, the government announced its intention to double the number of apprenticeships in England, providing an extra 75,000 places a year from 2014/15.

Lincolnshire Heritage Service hosted Rebecca Storr, the first museum-based creative apprentice to complete a placement in England. She is now employed in the museum sector.

Ron Frayne, workforce development manager for culture and adult education at Lincolnshire, says creative apprentice placements offer a mix of on- and off-the-job training where young people have the opportunity to acquire skills and knowledge, and gain qualifications while doing so.

“Apprenticeships fill current skills gaps and ensure we have the expertise we need for the future,” he adds. “Taking on an apprentice is cost effective because your people can learn while they’re on the job and the government contributes to the costs of learning.’”

Creative and Cultural Skills, the organisation that oversees creative apprenticeships, says apprentices tend to be highly motivated and eager to learn. As well as contributing directly to the museum’s work, they bring in new ideas from their college – and existing staff can develop by mentoring apprentices.

Wendy Moore, regional workforce development officer at Renaissance East Midlands, says creative apprenticeships can help diversify a museum’s workforce.

Museums in the East Midlands also collaborate with Nottingham Trent University to widen participation in higher education. Young people who might not otherwise attend university, particularly from lower socio-economic backgrounds, have their course fees paid and receive bursaries of £200 a term to study for a professional certificate or diploma in heritage tourism that can lead to employment or build up credits towards a degree.

The standard entry requirement is A-levels, but to encourage a wide range of applicants there is flexibility to offer places to people without qualifications who have an interest in developing a career in museums.

The programme is promoted to potential participants as providing the skills needed “to get your first step on the career ladder”. At its core is an assessed work placement at a museum or heritage site. Of the 15 people in the first October 2010 intake, almost half are from a minority-ethnic group or have a disability, increasing the diversity of people with knowledge and experience to work in museums.

As well as diversifying the workforce, there are several other benefits of offering work experience, traineeships and apprenticeships.

Ron Frayne says: “It introduces into the sector people with new skills and ideas by offering an alternative route to harness fresh talent. If you have trained staff with the right skills for the job, they can do a wider range of tasks and take on new responsibilities. This can help to reduce skills shortages, minimise staff turnover and workplace accidents and increase productivity.”

This case study is taken from the Museums Association's Culture Change, Dynamism and Diversity report, written by Maurice Davies and Helen Wilkinson. Click here to read the report