Consumer goods giant Unilever has been running Apprenticeships for decades; but, recently, it has expanded the range of the schemes it offers to include Project Management, Human Resources, Business Admin and IT. Currently, 83% of Unilever's offices and factories across the UK run some kind of Apprenticeship programme.

Tim Munden, HR Vice President at Unilever UK and Ireland, says that Apprenticeships are a way for the business to discover a talented and diverse workforce, while helping young people develop. “As a large employer, we have an opportunity — and a responsibility — to help young people gain some valuable work experience and develop their work-based skills,” he explains.

Transition

The number of the company's Advanced and Higher Apprenticeships has also risen. In 2008, Unilever ran just one Advanced programme; this year it offers 11 Advanced and Higher Apprenticeships. Twenty-year-old Sophia Horgan is coming to the end of an 18-month Level 3 Business Administration Apprenticeship with Unilever, and will shortly be starting a Higher Apprenticeship in Applied Human Resources, also with the company.

“After my A-levels I decided I didn't want to take the university route as I wasn't sure what subject to study,” she says. “I wanted to work but I also wanted to develop and learn more. The Apprenticeship has been a great transition from school to the workplace and, as a person, it's also made me more independent and proactive. Plus it's been good to work alongside other apprentices who are in the same situation as me.”

“Apprenticeships offer the best of both worlds,” says Liza Lawal, Unilever's Apprenticeship Co-ordinator, UKI. “They develop the employability skills that young people need, while giving them a workplace where they can put everything they learn into practice, supported and guided by colleagues, team members and managers.”