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The 1st Digital Marketing Apprenticeship: Part of a Larger Movement

Posted by Brad Voeller on September 20, 2016

IMG_8036.jpgThe current system for transitioning from school to work is broken. Students are graduating college unable to find jobs in digital marketing because they lack digital skills. Employers can’t find the right entry-level talent with the skillset they want. What if we could sustainably integrate work and learning to bridge this skills gap in digital marketing?

Enter the apprenticeship model of learning. DCI is here creating a new apprenticeship model in the U.S. Are you ready to join the movement?

What is Apprenticeship?

The historical or traditional definition for an apprentice is a person legally bound to a master craftsman in order to learn a trade. Think professions such as carpenter, electrician or welder. But that was the old days - apprenticeship is now applied to all professions and modern skills.

Apprenticeship has evolved into more of a partnership: where one person learns a trade or skill by working with someone more experienced than them. Think of an internship, where you’re at a company to accelerate your learning while you’re still in school, but more advanced, long-term, and with deeper levels of commitment.

Apprentices search for jobs at companies where they can continue to grow and learn new skills.

At DCI our apprentices are full-time, paid employees who have graduated college and are committed to continuous learning. We support apprentices by surrounding them with growth-hungry peers and a community of experts. It’s less about your specific job and more about the mindset you embrace.

The apprenticeship mindset is arranging life and work around learning.

  • You’re hungry to learn and grow through work
  • You don’t settle for jobs where you’ll be stuck in the same patterns and skillset
  • You actively seek opportunities for skill development and career acceleration

Think of it as, arranging your work and life around your primary goal of learning. For you, this should translate into working a job while surrounding yourself with a learning community that is going to help you apply what you are learning. You’ll make a difference at your company while growing yourself.

Apprenticeship in the UK

If you’ve been to the UK, you’ll know that apprenticeships are a big deal. A huge percentage of workers develop their skills through an apprentice-like experience. Since 2004, creating more apprenticeships by supporting employers in providing modern apprenticeship opportunities has been part of the national agenda. The huge success of apprenticeship programs led to the creation of a National Apprenticeship Levy that requires almost all employers to offer apprenticeships.

Last year I had the privilege of meeting with apprenticeship movement leaders and visionaries in the UK. One highlight from my trip was meeting the leadership team of AAA Apprenticeships. They offer apprenticeships in the areas of accounting, technology, financial services, and of course, digital marketing. They have successfully scaled their digital apprenticeships to serve 6,000 apprentices in 22 locations across the country - now it’s time to apply that to the U.S.

Why aren’t apprenticeships as common in the U.S.?

If the apprenticeship model is widely successful in the UK, why don’t we have a similar model in the U.S.? Largely because apprenticeship is wrongly associated with blue-collar trades. Most state run agencies that manage apprenticeships, including the Workforce Commission in Texas, lack a coherent framework for modern digital apprenticeships and have failed to reach out to businesses requiring digital talent. It’s harder for businesses to start apprenticeships on their own when it isn’t their core competency - that’s why they need a program like DCI to facilitate these partnerships.

To shift perceptions, the Obama Administration earmarked $100 million to create more examples of modern apprenticeships. The intention is to fuel more success stories through individual programs around the country; creating positive momentum for a larger movement and scaled strategy. The national mindset needs to move from traditional apprenticeships of trades to the modern apprenticeships of technology and business.

DCI is one of those examples - we’ve launched the first digital marketing specific apprenticeship.

The why behind DCI

IMG_8101.jpgAs I’m sure you know by experience, typical job descriptions for digital marketing ask for 3-5 years work experience with digital. But of course, what recent college graduate fulfills that requirement? Most digital skills are learned through internships and on-the-job work since college curriculum has not caught up to the digital world. Marketing programs still focus on traditional practices and aren’t able to teach students all the digital skills they’ll need to land a job. Frustrating, right?

That’s why DCI exists - to teach recent graduates the digital skills they need to land a job in marketing. We provide a 12-month immersion program where apprentices develop a portfolio demonstrating 3+ years experience of work plus the skills and certifications to prove their worth.

Often times employers struggle to find entry-level talent with all the necessary digital marketing skills. We bridge the talent gap by providing employers with highly qualified talent and helping recent grads find the perfect marketing job to facilitate further skill development.

How does apprenticeship bridge the talent gap?

To bridge this gap there needs to be training for talent and a way to match talent with employers seeking their skillset. Apprenticeship trains talent on the job and creates a relationship where apprentices often continue on at their job for years after their apprenticeship ends.

With the DCI apprenticeship model, learning is applied to your specific employer and job. This is not your typical classroom brain-dump. You actually get to practice and apply what you are doing, bringing value to you and your employer. You have conversations with peers, mentors, and coaches on how you are making a difference in your day-to-day work based on what you are learning. The DCI training is not separate from your job, which is how it bridges the gap for both the apprentice and employer.

Apprenticeship also helps employers solve retention issues. There’s often concern that you’ll jump ship as soon as you feel your skills are more developed and highly marketable. However, many employers have found that apprenticeships actually help with retention. Through working a job where your boss and team are supporting your learning, you’re going to feel more loyal and grateful for the opportunity. Employers help train their talent and as a result the talent stays on longer with the company.

Apprenticeship at play

Apprentices are already making an impact in San Antonio. We’ve launched three cohorts and 20 apprentices and we’re already seeing both parties reap the benefits!

Samuel Mills, an Internet Marketing Specialist, is bringing his company into the world of digital. Here’s what his boss has to say about it, “By learning more about analytics and SEO from DCI, Sam can contribute another perspective to our team about the effectiveness of our vendors.” Read the full interview with Sam’s boss on how he’s adding huge value to Southwest Exteriors.

Reese Garcia, an SEM Manager, has significantly improved systems and processes for Pear Analytics agency. In fact, the agency’s PPC offering grew so large that they needed to hire another PPC expert. Pear Analytics has seen the huge value of having Reese as an apprentice that they hired another apprentice, Joseph. That’s right - Reese is still an apprentice and has already transitioned to managing another apprentice.

These are just two of the many success stories we’ve seen with our apprentices across a variety of businesses and digital marketing roles in San Antonio. Want to be a part of the movement too? Check out our apprenticeship opportunities.

Learning must now be embedded in the workflow. The apprenticeship movement will win.

It won’t be easy and for the faint-hearted, but it will transform the way we work and learn.

Check out the Apprenticeship Manifesto for a more in-depth look at how you can embrace the apprenticeship mindset.

Start Reading the Apprenticeship Manifesto

Topics: Training