How apprenticeships are a win-win for learners and employers


Businesses need new skills at a rate faster than I’ve ever seen before – which means they need to help their employees evolve via upskilling and internal mobility. In years past, companies might have relied more on talent acquisition to “buy” the new skills they needed, but that strategy no longer works in isolation for today’s labour market and business environment.

These are the words of LinkedIn VP of Talent Jennifer Shappley, reflecting within the October 2023 Global Talents Trends report on the importance of upskilling and the changing approach now seen by many businesses when it comes to filling skills gaps within their organisational structure.

The area of recruitment and retention remain at the very top end of the challenges faced by companies and their HR departments, with 38% of employers having ‘hard-to-fill’ vacancies (Labour Market Outlook Winter 2023-24, CIPD).

it shows that the learning element of my qualification seamlessly fits into the practical day-to-day requirements of my role.

The Credit Services Associations (CSA), through its role as an industry Trade Association and also as an Approved Apprenticeship Training Provider, is aware of the challenges faced by many of its members when it comes to filling vacancies with suitably trained individuals in what is a highly-regulated sector. The CSA is also aware of the importance of keeping the skills and knowledge of staff up-to-date in order to not only improve engagement, but with an eye to use this upskilling in order to promote from within – as Shappley refers to in the opening quote.

The CSA is benefitting from this approach themselves through an existing member of staff’s journey where he is undertaking an apprenticeship as part of his role within the company.

Jamie Skiggs is Digital Learning Coordinator at the CSA, and the idea of him undergoing an apprenticeship was first mentioned soon after he joined in early 2021. “A colleague suggested that it may be beneficial to have someone from the CSA enrolled in an apprenticeship programme to enable us to learn new skills and then apply them to our role”, explains Jamie.

“Through the previous experience of family members and from my role within the Learning & Development department at the CSA, I already understood that many of the common assumptions surrounding apprenticeships – such as them only being for school-leavers – are completely false, and that people of any age can benefit from them.

“Since then, apprenticeships have grown in popularity and I think that more people are seeing the advantages to this route of learning.”

With the combination of learners wishing to find an alternative to university education, to have the opportunity to ‘earn while you learn’ and also recognising the opportunity to upskill or even reskill when already in a role, apprenticeship starts have seen a 7% increase between August and October 2023 compared to the same period from the previous year (Apprenticeships, Academic Year 2023/24, GOV.UK).

Through assignments and projects that form part of his Level 5 Learning & Development Consultant/Partnership apprenticeship, Jamie has already applied his new knowledge and understanding to practical effect within his role, such as playing a bigger part in the planning and creation of the CSA’s own online training products.

Jamie says: “The boundaries between my ‘normal’ work and tasks that form part of my apprenticeship are actually quite blurred, which is a good thing as it shows that the learning element of my qualification seamlessly fits into the practical day-to-day requirements of my role.

“The initial plan was to meet my ‘off-the-job’ training requirement [20% of the work week to be spent on training] through spending one day a week exclusively on my learning, but because the learning and practical side of my role became so naturally connected I found that meeting that 20% target was not a problem at all – especially when you factor in things like webinars and other events count towards the target”.

With Jamie approaching his End Point Assessment (EPA), he already has some plans for how to apply his new skills. 86% of learners state that apprenticeships helped them to develop skills relevant to their organisation (Understanding apprenticeship benefits and funding, GOV.UK), and Jamie has devoted some of his time on the course looking at the rise of AI and its potential implications and uses for CSA member firms, as well as how it could be harnessed in the world of training.

“I’m planning on engaging with our members and taking a look at what role AI could play in our industry, and I also have some plans for future modules of our Collections Learning Initiative (CLI) product.”

Reflecting on Jamie’s experience over these past 18 months, CSA Director of Learning & Development Fiona Macaskill said: “Jamie’s apprenticeship journey is the perfect example of how this route of training is mutually beneficial to both the learner and the employer.

“Through his apprenticeship Jamie has learned new skills, built on existing ones, and has had the opportunity to be part of an engaging and interesting experience. The CSA, in return, benefits from having a member of staff who now possesses additional specialist knowledge that can be practically applied directly into our work as a trade body and training provider, knowledge which may have otherwise required us to hire an additional member of staff”.

Credit Services Association (CSA) website:

CSA Learning website:

By Chris Tynemouth, CSA Interim Head of Marketing & Events


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The Credit Services Association (CSA) is the only National Trade Association in the UK for organisations active in the debt collection and debt purchase industry. The Association, which has a history dating back to 1906, has over 250 member companies which represent 90% of the industry, and employ 11,000 people. At any one time its members hold up to £60bn for collection, returning nearly £4bn in collections to the UK economy per annum. As the voice of the collections industry, our vision is to build confidence in debt collection by making the entire process clear, easy to understand and less stressful for all those involved.

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