We asked some of our current apprentice managers why they hired an apprentice and to give a bit of feedback on their experience for new potential managers....

Why did you hire an apprentice?
  • "We identified the need to start a better succession planning process and to give back to people wanting to get into Higher Education" 
    – Ellie Purser, HR Officer
  • "Apprenticeships are the best way to provide young people with opportunities to carve out a worthwhile career"
    – Brian Eade, Laboratories & Workshop Manager
  • "We needed an extra person and decided that as Estates were taking on 8 Apprentices we would make it 9. The standard of candidates sent to us for interview was so high" 
    – Robert Malloy, Print Studio Manager
  • "We chose to hire an apprentice to provide an opportunity to someone looking to take their first steps in an administrative career and we hoped that we would find someone enthusiastic, and with a drive to learn and to develop" 
    – Liisa O’Brien, Professional Development Administrator
  • "Short-term: to reduce the ever-increasing administrative burden on our team, long-term: to support and develop someone’s career within the University, hopefully to stay within our team for some time but ultimately to take them wherever they would like to go!" 
    – Felicity Green, Trainee Administrator
  • "The Apprenticeship scheme is new to Central Finance, I wasn’t actually involving in the ‘Hiring’ just placing the chosen candidates within the Payments Team! 
    – Yvonne Butler, Payments Team Supervisor
What are the benefits?


  • "How much time do you have?! The benefits are endless. It means members of our admin team have support with basic tasks and also benefits the apprentices as they get to see processes from start to finish" 
    – Ellie Purser, HR Officer
  • "An apprentice can commence training with few preconceptions, from a departmental point of view, they can have training targeted to departmental needs" 
    – Brian Eade, Laboratories & Workshop Manager
  • "We have gained so much from having our Apprentice, the enthusiasm, a willingness to learn, a new way to look at work"
    – Robert Malloy, Print Studio Manager
  • "Having an apprentice has brought a fresh perspective to the office, especially as our apprentice enjoys researching and finding new and better ways of doing administrative tasks more efficiently"  
    – Liisa O’Brien, Professional Development Administrator
  • "There are so many benefits to having an apprentice!
    • They can often have a completely different perspective to you, which in University administration, can be incredibly insightful. 
    • An extra pair of hands with the capacity to take on elements from multiple roles and not just assisting one aspect of administration. In a team where administration spans across HR, Finance, Students, Research and Communications, our apprentice is able to turn her hand to tasks in any of these areas.
    • A somewhat ‘blank canvas’ with no pre-conceptions of how things have been done before. Couple this with the knowledge that they bring back from their studies and you have a very motivated individual who can bring new skills to the team and improve processes" 
      - Felicity Green, Trainee Administrator
  • "The initial benefits must include the fact that you have an additional Team member and for them the fact that they can study and work at the same time.  This helps advance their learning while gaining valuable work experience" 
    – Yvonne Butler, Payments Team Supervisor





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What advice would you give to a manager?
  • "The training period is intense for the first few months, but you're rewarded in kind for the effort you put in" 
    – Ellie Purser, HR Officer
  • "Have the candidates carry out some form of assessment at interview. Choose the training provider carefully" 
    – Brian Eade, Laboratories & Workshop Manager
  • "If you can, get them involved in the Ambassador side to give something back, I would recommend that, my Apprentice has got so much out of that"
    – Robert Malloy, Print Studio Manager
  • "With guidance and support your apprentice can make a valuable contribution to the department. Our apprentice was already adding value within their first few weeks of starting with us, when she redesigned our application process for places on our programmes. Our apprentice continues to work with the team to adapt and improve the process each time.
    – Liisa O’Brien, Professional Development Administrator
  • "Never underestimate the value of having regular one-to-ones with your apprentice and understand that you will need to invest time in them. It is unrealistic to expect your apprentice to hit the ground running, but investing time in them from the outset will ultimately ensure that you get the most out of them in return. That’s not to say that it’s a slow process, our apprentice did hit the ground running, but we tried our best to support her from the outset and encouraged the mind-set that there is no such thing as a silly question.  Also, don’t forget that they are studying to complete a qualification and you will need to factor this into their capacity to help out. Apprentices are expected to complete their qualification within working hours and you need to be able to support this and balance it with the work that you require them to carry out. If the qualification is a good fit with the role they are carrying out, then the two will mesh together and if it doesn’t seem to be an obvious fit at first, there are ways that you can tailor both the job and the college work to ensure it works out for both parties" 
    – Felicity Green, Trainee Administrator
  • "Go for it" 
    – Yvonne Butler, Payments Team Supervisor
What have you learnt?
  • "Not to make assumptions about what people's capabilities might be - our apprentices never cease to amaze!" 
    – Ellie Purser, HR Officer
  • "Shortlisting and effective interviewing can reap rewards with the ideal candidate" 
    – Brian Eade, Laboratories & Workshop Manager
  • "I have learnt that taking on an apprentice has led to a more motivated and focussed team working environment. Our apprentice is keen to learn and works hard to learn new system and processes that will see the department ahead of new technologies for the years ahead" 
    – Liisa O’Brien, Professional Development Administrator
  • "That it is a very rewarding experience and although we had concerns about the time it would take to train an apprentice, it is worth every minute, as we get out as much as we put in… and then some!" 
    – Felicity Green, Trainee Administrator
  • "I have realised that it is really down to the individuals, whether they make the most of the opportunities given or not.  They will either thrive and develop, embrace all the opportunities given OR take the other route and drift" 
    – Yvonne Butler, Payments Team Supervisor
  • "That this is a great way to get young enthusiastic people into the University, I am about to interview for another Apprentice next week and am looking forward to starting a new journey with them"
    – Robert Malloy, Print Studio Manager

If you are a current supervisor or mentor and would like to contribute a testimonial please send it to the Apprenticeships Manager.

The National Apprenticeship Service offers a range of testimonial videos on their YouTube channel. You may also want to visit the Oxford Apprentices YouTube channel for more video content.



  • Plan ahead! Consider hiring an apprentice for jobs within your department that are difficult to fill, areas of high staff turnover and roles that require highly skilled work.
  • Get in touch with the Apprenticeships Manager who will help you identify a suitable apprenticeship framework and training provider.
  • Choose the right level of qualification for your apprentice. This will be based on the nationally-recognised qualification he or she will need in the future to be able to work within that role.
  • Write and review the job description and spend the necessary time writing, amending and reviewing your job description to make sure it meets your needs.
  • Train your supervisors. Training is available for your designated supervisors (line managers) and mentors. Contact the Apprenticeships Manager for more information on these sessions.
  • Mentor them up! Provide your apprentice with a mentor that will be able to address any queries or concerns during their employment (extra tip: using an ex-apprentice is a good idea as they will understand the type of support the new recruit needs).
  • Give feedback. Always let the apprentice know what they are doing well and where they need to improve to maximise their potential.
  • Check up. Schedule regular meetings with your apprentice to see if they are reaching these goals.
  • Integrate them. Don’t look at the Apprenticeship as a temporary position. Provide you apprentice with an opportunity to grow within your department.
  • Encourage the apprentice to further their skills with a higher Apprenticeship.
  • Motivate! Make sure the apprentice feels like an important part of your team by recognising their achievements. We hold an annual Apprenticeship expo & awards in March - check out 2019's event!
Related links




Contact us

Apprenticeships Team

T: +44 1865 270536

E: apprenticeships@admin.ox.ac.uk




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