Government levy sees rising number of aspiring journalists opt for apprenticeships

A university college offering NCTJ-accredited training has launched a junior journalism apprenticeship that has already attracted trainees from Sky, the Evening Standard and The Independent.

The University College of Football Business (UCFB), which runs a sports broadcasting degree programme and a fast-track journalism diploma for post-grads, launched the new apprenticeship scheme in May.

The scheme has been set up following changes to government apprenticeship funding in April that included an “apprenticeship levy” of 0.5 per cent on businesses with a wage bill larger than £3m a year.

Course leader Roz McKenzie said: “We’ve got Sky sending apprentices in September, and there was a lot of interest from newspaper publishers at the Wembley seminar.

“The message is that they want to recruit trainees, they want to increase diversity in the newsroom and they want young journalists who are NCTJ-trained with multi-media disciplines – and shorthand.”

Apprentices undergo a combination of college-based and on-the-job training.

Those on the current two-year apprenticeship scheme at UCFB Wembley – based in the famous stadium – will begin on-the-job training at the Independent and Evening Standard this summer.

A total of 11 trainees are enrolled on the UCFB course this year, including two trainees from Sky, four from the Independent and Evening Standard and five who transferred from another course.

An NCTJ spokesperson told Press Gazette that there are 80 junior journalist apprenticeships in progress across the country.

There are eight NCTJ-approved junior journalist apprenticeship providers.

They include: UCFB Wembley, City of Liverpool College, City of Wolverhampton College, Darlington College, Harlow College, Highbury College, Lambeth College and Sheffield College.

Will Gore, deputy managing director of the Independent and Evening Standard, said: “For non-graduates to undertake the fast-track NCTJ diploma course is not easy, but we have found it preferable to run the apprenticeship in this way, front-loading the scheme with the academic elements.”

Laurie Tucker, Sky Sports News day editor, praised the scheme. He said: “As an employer, block release means apprentices come to us legally-safe and more work-ready than apprentices on day-release courses.”

UCFB is holding a second free seminar on the apprenticeship levy and junior journalist course at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium on Tuesday, 20 June.

Employers interested in the apprenticeship scheme should contact Laura Davies at: l.davies@ucfb.com.

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