The job market has changed... are apprenticeships the future?

Novus employee talking Novus apprentices who are stood in a semi circle

In a job market where you can find opportunities on your Twitter feed and be formally interviewed via Skype, it’s little surprise that attitudes are changing as to how you gain employment.

The routes you take in your career are no longer limited to a few options - avenues like apprenticeship programmes offer more alternatives than ever.

Working alongside universities, modern apprenticeships are making a mockery of the idea that academic progression and hands-on experience are mutually exclusive. Young people can learn on-the-job, whilst studying in an area of particular interest.

Study and work (at the same time)

In a survey conducted by property maintenance and refurbishment company Novus Property Solutions, it was found that the UK is once again emerging as a hotbed for apprenticeships (albeit steadily).

Almost half (47%) of the respondents said they would accept an apprenticeship in their chosen field, given the opportunity.

We spoke to Jane Lowe, Apprenticeships Manager at the University of Derby, to find out more.

“University has been the natural progression for a full-time degree pathway and, so naturally, this is the route that young people are expected to take after college or sixth form,” she commented.

“I think that over the next few years the choices universities will be able to provide for students will mean that, for those who want to follow a full-time degree course it will still be an option, but there will also be an opportunity to study a higher level qualification or a degree, while being employed (higher apprenticeships, for example).”

Partnerships between universities and business apprentice schemes allow young people to learn key skills that make them invaluable to their employer.

In another survey, Novus revealed that 54% of the UK do not think that young people are pressured to go to university and that they are becoming more aware of other available options. It seems that the UK has grown out of the preconception that university is a natural – even assumed – route for young people. 

Apprenticeship standards – learn your own way

The standards put in place for apprenticeship programs are ultra-professional and geared for a wide range of industries. Working with skilled employees, students can gain valuable knowledge that will set them apart in the jobs market.

The quality of learning has helped shift the perception of apprenticeships, bringing about a fresh and progressive attitude. As industries get more inclusive, diverse and open to new ventures, the opportunities for young people have multiplied.

As Learning and Development Manager at BPS World, Marianne Hatcher commented on the benefits BPS has seen as a result of their apprenticeships.

“They are not just about ‘work experience’ - they are a structured learning programme over a course of 2-3 years. Apprenticeships give on-the-job learning, supported by training and education with a nationally recognised qualification to be gained on completion. BPS World has had great success with the Rising Stars programme and has had two apprentices receive nominations for the IRP awards for ‘Recruitment Apprentice of The Year’,” she remarked.

New and exciting industries are now getting involved, and the time where apprenticeships were largely made up of the more traditional, ‘hands-on’ trades is long gone.

James Hammill, director of BPP Professional Apprenticeships spoke on how the standards are changing – for the better:

 “Changes to apprenticeship standards mean it’s not just companies in traditional sectors that are recognising the benefits apprenticeships can bring.

“The new standards mean people can now complete even degree or master’s qualifications through an apprenticeship, offering them a debt-free way to enter the profession of their choice straight after their A-levels, and creating new ways for blue chip firms to hire future professionals.

“For example, the digital and technology degree apprenticeship allows companies to hire driven employees who are committed to breaking in to the digital sector at 18. The apprenticeship then provides them with both the theoretical knowledge and work-based experience they need to succeed.”

It’s not just the apprentices that benefit

Apprenticeships are not just aimed at the progression of apprentices – they’re also a massive help to employers looking to add to their team. 

David Ingram, Managing Director at digital marketing agency Bring Digital, commented on the benefits of hiring apprentices in this fast-paced industry:

“When there isn’t a specific academic route for certain specialties, such as technical SEO, having an apprentice allows us to grow our own talent. Apprentices can learn on the job from others around them, gaining hands-on experience and acquiring knowledge from leaders in the industry, and can then apply it to their own work. 

“The world of digital marketing is incredibly fast-paced, and apprentices are the perfect way to plug the skills gap that we often experience. They bring with them a brand new way of thinking, skills that you may never have had in your business before, a fresh perspective and a whole load of creative energy that you can tap into.

“We’ve also found that retention rates amongst our apprentices are fantastic, so by hiring a young person who is willing to learn and work, you are hiring people who want to build a career rather than stay in a job. They are loyal, dedicated, and motivated; all great things that you want in your people.”

Employing an apprentice makes the hiring process simpler, and also allows you to promote from within and oversee the growth of your apprentice. 

An organisation that has been built by apprentices

Stuart Seddon, Chairman of Novus Property Solutions, explained why the company has built such a strong reputation for bringing apprentices through the ranks. 

He said: "It is vital that firms recognise the value of apprenticeship schemes and their power to enrich people’s lives. Apprentices have been a major focus at Novus for the last 75 years and the success of our scheme is reflected at board level; all but one member of the company’s board of directors were teenagers when they joined the firm, and we all learned our trade through the Novus apprenticeship scheme.

“The experience of being an apprentice is one that gets passed down through families, and we have gained enormous strength from the family connections that can be found in all areas of our company. Nowadays, companies can use social media to communicate with the families and guardians of their apprentices, ensuring young recruits are happy and safe at work.

“Rather than aiming to simply upskill young people as quickly as possible, apprenticeships should help them grow and develop in all areas of their work. Those of us who were apprentices ourselves remember being 16 or 17 years old, working alongside colleagues with 20 or 30 years of experience, and how much we learned from those people - we want to share that learning with future generations.”

fire door maintenance


This week marks the eighth annual Fire Door Safety Week, where those across the construction and built environment industries come together to raise awareness of the critical role of fire doors and the importance of their correct installation and maintenance. Why do we need fire doors? Fire doors play a crucial role as a first line of defence against fire and smoke in containing their spread is vital. Fire doors protect evacuation points so that building occupants can safely leave the building. They also protect the contents of the building to mitigate the financial and asset loss associated with fire damage. Furthermore, fire doors afford greater time to firefighters in successfully tackling and quelling the blaze. Where are fire doors found? Fire doors are located inside the building and are designed to resist the spread of fire internally. As opposed to fire exits that are installed onto external walls in order to allow people to escape the building in the event of a fire emergency. Can fire doors be left open? No. Fire doors must remain closed at all times to prevent the spread of fire and smoke. Additionally, fire doors should carry a clear sign indicating that the fire door should be kept shut or locked shut. Where the fire door has an automatic closing feature, this information should be clearly displayed also. The importance of installing, inspecting and maintaining fire doors It is important to note that having a fire door isn’t a shortcut to a safer dwelling. Last year, the London Fire Brigade’s assistant commissioner Dan Daly said that of 177 care homes inspected across the capital, a third had inadequate or poorly maintained fire doors. So, what can those charged with keeping tenants safe do to minimise the risk posed by fire? Fire door installation It is important to remember that installing a fire door isn’t the same as a regular door and must be fitted by a competent installer. Although legal certification is not required to install fire doors, if they are not properly fitted, the fire resistance capabilities of the door can be compromised and even rendered useless. BM Trada offer the Q-Mark Fire Door Installation scheme for installers interested in becoming accredited. What steps should a fire door installer follow? First, they need to make sure they’re installing a fire door with the correct certification for the space. These vary from building to building, but they’ll always come with a certification mark veryifing the level of protection they offer.   Once they’ve put the door up they’ll then need to check the gaps around the top and sides have consistently gap of 2-4mm when the door’s closed. While the gap at the bottom can be no bigger than 10mm for FD30/60 and no bigger than 3mm for FD30/60S in line with the manufacturers installation guidelines and the BS 8214 2016 code of practice.   After that it’s time to check the intumescent seals around the door to ensure they’re intact – these expand in the event of a fire, preventing it from spreading through the gaps on the outer edges. All fire doors also need to be fixed with at least three hinges with no missed or broken screws to ensure it will perform properly under strain.   Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the door needs to close properly when installed. A fire door only works correctly when shut, so any door that is wedged open or doesn’t close fully is rendered useless.   Once a door is installed it still needs to be regularly inspected and maintained properly. Tenants and landlords should create a maintenance log for checking all doors regularly in a building, and ensure that any parts that are replaced are done so on a like-for-like basis. Article 17 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO/FSO) mandates that fire resisting doors should be correctly installed and properly maintained so that they remain effective and fit-for-purpose.  How often should a fire door be inspected? Fire doors should be inspected every six months for damage and to ensure they are still compliant. If the building is a particularly busy one or where the fire door is located in a heavily trafficked area, checking the fire door every 3 months might be prudent. It is important however to continually monitor the condition of internal fire doors, reporting any damage as soon as it becomes apparent. Who should inspect a fire door? It is essential that a competent person be entrusted with the inspection of fire doors. We would recommend a BM Trada Q-Mark trained Fire Door maintainer, FDIS (Fire Door Inspection Scheme) trained and registered individual carry out the inspection of fire doors. These individuals carry a diploma in fire doors and/or are Certified Fire Door Inspectors. Novus also offer this service and we encourage you to contact us if this service is of interest to you >> What should be checked when inspecting a fire door? 1.    Check the Fire Door Certification All fire doors must be certified (CE Marked) so make sure to check for a label or plug on the top or at the side of the door. 2.    Signs of Damage Check for obvious signs of damage to the door itself – making sure to check for cracks in the door or in the glass (if glazed). 3.    Check the gaps As when installing the fire door, ensure that there is a gap less than 4mm from the frame and less than2-4mm when the door’s closed. While the gap at the bottom can be no bigger than 10mm for FD30/60 and no bigger than 3mm for FD30/60S 4.    The Fire Door Closer Make sure the fire door closer is still properly attached and not damaged. 5.    Door frame and seals Ensure that the fire door frame is securely attached to the wall and undamaged with the intumescent seals in tact inside the frame. The seal must also be unbroken and undamaged. 6.    Hinges Fire doors need at least 3 hinges with a melting point above 800 degrees centigrade. The screws fixing the hinges into place should all be the correct size, taking care to make certain there are no broken screws as the door could become loose and ineffective. Maintaining and inspecting for future use We’re really proud of the work we’ve recently done to carry out fire door refurbishments across the length and breadth of the country in recent months, but there’s still a long way to go to ensure that both new and existing homes are as safe as possible. Following these processes will go a long way to achieving this. You can get in touch with us on 01782 237 249 or email us at to discuss your fire door project in detail.


We use cookies to make our site work. A cookie is a small file that we put on your device. These cookies allow us to distinguish you from other users of our website, which helps us to provide you with a good experience when you browse our website and allows us to improve our site.
Necessary Cookies
Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.
Analytical Cookies
Analytical Cookies help us to improve our website by collecting and reporting information about how visitors use our site. This helps us to improve the way our website works, for example by ensuring that users are easily finding what they are looking.
Read more about the individual cookies we use, their duration and how to recognise them in our Cookie Policy.