Written by Viki Taylor-Kidson

Expanding our apprenticeship programmes

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Apprenticeships play a critical role in providing alternative routes into employment. We’ve employed apprentices in many of our departments over the years in line with our commitment to inclusive work practices and helping us create a diverse work force, but in 2024 we’ve really upped our game in this area. We know that apprenticeships are fundamental to us living our values in our organisation. Currently, we employ apprentices in our Finance and People teams. Two additional market research apprentices have just joined and a third will be a social research apprentice, working towards the first-of-its-kind Social Research Degree Apprenticeship Programme. We’ve been involved in the programme throughout its inception, and we’re delighted we’ll be recruiting later this year.

Fostering a diverse workforce

It’s no secret that the research industry is traditionally steeped in academia. Historically, there’s been one route into research and that’s been via university. We all know that not everyone has that privilege (or desire!). We hope our apprenticeships will play a vital role in fostering diversity that is so crucial to the social research industry, and provide opportunities to people who wouldn’t necessarily be taking a traditional route into research.

Mari, an apprentice who recently joined IFF said, “It’s so important. Apprenticeships give people from different backgrounds the ability to achieve the same things as people who might have had a more academic route to the job”.

Gill Stewart, Learning and Development Director and part of the Trailblazer Group who led the creation of the Social Research Degree Apprenticeship Programme, said, “social research involves investigating issues for all in society, and should include as diverse a range of researchers as possible. A degree shouldn’t be necessary to begin a great career in this area, and now, it isn’t!”

Opening doors

Apprenticeships are powerful door-openers for individuals who might otherwise find the job market inaccessible. We spoke to Liv, who we recently recruited as an apprentice. She said,

The apprenticeship gives me the experience I need. It’s such a good route. We all start somewhere and apprenticeships open so many doors for so many people. I couldn’t just apply for any job at IFF, the apprenticeship allows me to work here.”

A practical route into research

One of the key benefits of apprenticeships is the direct connection to employers. Unlike traditional education routes, we’ll be hiring our apprentices and training them in the environment they’ll work in.

As Liv pointed out, university isn’t for everyone. “For me personally, it’s a better way to learn. I went to university but I left purposely to find an apprenticeship. I’d been in education for so long, I wanted to actually use what I have learned and put it into action”.

Our programs are designed to equip participants with practical skills and industry-specific knowledge that are directly applicable to a career in research. This hands-on training is invaluable for those who might lack formal qualifications or experience.

The pioneering approach of the Social Research Degree Apprenticeship Programme and our additional apprentices reflects IFF’s commitment to building a diverse and skilled workforce capable of driving meaningful change in the field of social research.

It marks a significant step forward in our mission to create opportunities for those who might otherwise face barriers to entry, ensuring that we continue to benefit from a rich tapestry of perspectives and ideas.