It may seem obvious but an apprenticeship in graphic design is a very different career path than the typical route of going to university and applying for a job as a junior graphic designer.

Whilst apprenticeships are not a new idea, they have been around for yonks. The Victorians were big on apprenticeships and you can read horror stories of poor little Timmy working for 16 years apprenticed to some slave driver and his mean wife. Things have moved on.

The creative industry is slow to wake up to apprenticeships. Slow and vary wary. After all, we all went to university, did our time, got our degrees and ventured out. Most of us see value in our education.

With a computer, some software and reading a few good books, there is an argument that any urchin could teach themselves graphic design. Maybe so. It has to be said that even with a design education, you will not graduate from a university with all the skills you need to excel in the industry. Learning on the job is a huge part of you career development. I've been at it for 20 years and I learn every day.

From an employers perspective, there are two sides to this shiny new coin. Firstly the government offer financial help for employers. You can apply for a grant and get between 50-100% of their wage and the wage must be the minimum wage.

So that's all good then, cheap labour. But it isn't quite like that for the employer. Taking a blank canvas and turning it into an old master takes an enormous amount of effort. Training someone from scratch requires a big commitment. Whilst it may seem nice to have someone to sharpen your pencils, the reality is for an employee in a graphic design business to be of commercial value, they need to be able to earn fees. That takes time.

From the perspective of a would-be apprentice, I'd imagine the temptation is the opportunity to get stuck in straight away and get earning some money in what is a cool job.

As far as I can see there isn't a lot on offer - I hope that changes. But if you do see an opportunity for an apprentice graphic designer, make sure you are getting a good deal. You need to make sure your are in a good agency. You will need support and help, not just from your boss, but the whole team. You will need that commitment to the training and you need to make sure you get it. This isn't easy for someone who does not know the industry.

Have a read of: what to look for in an agency when applying for an apprenticeship in graphic design.

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