The Access Group, one of the leading providers of business management software for small and mid-sized organisations in the UK, Ireland, USA and Asia Pacific, is challenging the perception of apprenticeships during this year’s NAW (National Apprenticeship Week). Offering the highest Level 7 master’s degree equivalent apprenticeships at Access is leading to some surprising results for both students and the Group overall.

The concept of apprenticeships is often connected with school leavers and early careers; however, according to a government report* published earlier this month, 48% of the apprenticeships started in 2022/23 were by people aged 25 and over, while only 23% were aged under 19.

The Access apprenticeship programme is open to employees of all ages looking to upskill or even change careers and supports individuals at all stages of their careers with no expectation on age or level of seniority.

Garry Goldman, Head of Learning at Access commented:

“As the education landscape changes, so do the opportunities available not only for school leavers but for those who are more established within their career.

“While it is widely accepted that apprenticeships provide school leavers with a viable and genuine alternative to undergraduate studies to kickstart their professional journey, it is less well-known that apprenticeships are also a fantastic way for those already in their workplace to fast-track their careers, through a unique blend of real-world experience, advanced academic attainment and structured learning.”

The current program includes Level 7 Digital and Technology Solutions Specialist, Level 7 Senior Leaders Master’s Degree and Level 7 Apprentice People Professional.

Vanessa Henfrey, Engineering Director at Access was 44 when she completed her Level 7 apprenticeship, an Executive Master’s in Leadership (MSc), Organisational Leadership + Chartered Fellow CMI.

Vanessa commented:

“For me, life is one learning journey. There are always skill sets to either learn or enhance your muscle memory and that has been a key part of my career success and what keeps me motivated. The master’s helped me to formalise what I already did at work, but also got me to think differently to how I approached my work and ensure that I was being my best work self.

“I choose a master’s that had a forward schedule of classes which happened on the weekend, and I was at the time lucky enough to have the support of my family members to help me balance this with childcare.

“My next qualification will be Neurodiversity in Coaching, again formalising what I already practice and picking up other skills along the way.”

Edward Collington, Employee Success Adviser at Access, is working towards a Level 7 Senior People Professional apprenticeship having already completed A-levels and a Business Management and HR undergraduate degree from Nottingham Trent University.

Edward commented:

“We learn at all stages of our professional life and career progression is something I strive for. These additional qualifications will help broaden my professional knowledge, which will support my career journey and help me progress into future roles.”

Access currently has 64 live apprenticeships and a further 33 people completed them within the last 12 months; the company offers a broad range of courses both within the UK and at overseas offices in Romania and APAC.